Tuned In

NBC: There Was Never a Conan O'Brien

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Tonight, there will likely not be a dry eye in the house, as America says goodbye to Jay Leno. Again. This time for three whole weeks.

After The Jay Leno Show ends tonight, Jay will head back to the Tonight show beginning March 1. And what can you do in the meantime, while Tonight is on hiatus for the Olympics? Well, you can always watch some online reruns of the Tonight show with Conan O’Brien.

Oh, wait—you can’t. Because NBC has silently scrubbed all episodes of Conan’s Tonight show from NBC.com and Hulu.

Now, NBC has no moral or historical obligation to rerun shows online that it no longer airs. But, as a rule, that’s what it generally does. You can watch Knight Rider on Hulu, and Kings, and Crusoe. That’s kind of what Hulu, part owned by NBC Universal, is for: monetizing, even if just a tiny bit, archival as well as current shows.

Is there a contractual or business reason the network pulled the reruns? Does it believe they somehow undermine its relaunch of Jay? Would it be helping to promote an entertainer they expect to be competing with them before too long? Or is this another personal swipe out of pique?

I don’t know. NBC answered my inquiries about yanking the Conan reruns with an official “No comment.” There may well be a good reason that it would cost NBC to leave the shows up, in which case I wouldn’t expect them to do other than they have done. But if they have a good reason, I can’t see why they wouldn’t just give it.

In the meantime, you can still see Conan talk to James Lipton about Leno in an old episode of Inside the Actors’ Studio, above. And enjoy those classic episodes of Surface!