Without his myriad of Web followers, there might not be another Conan show on air.
As word of Conan’s expulsion from his short-term gig as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show hit the Internet, fans held vigil via social media as Team Coco marched to the metaphorical courthouse steps of NBC by way of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. The late-night exile only seemed to fan flames as “I’m With Coco” memes emerged as Newsfeed graffiti. Conan himself eventually joined in the burgeoning army of Coco-devotees and made his first public remarks since his NBC exit on Twitter, which he joined only a few weeks after his final Tonight Show appearance. In less than 24 hours, Conan had more than 300,000 followers, with his current daily tweets reaching more than 1.8 million followers; Jay Leno only has 96,000, while David Letterman still claims he doesn’t “get it.” But as he transitioned to TBS, fans worried: Would Coco stay loyal? A push of viral marketing meant to gain momentum for his debut on basic cable seemed to indicate yes.
(More on TIME: Twitter & TV: How Social Media Is Helping Old Media)
To promote the fledgling show, Team Coco provided 24-hours worth of live programming streamed through YouTube, attracting some 660,000 viewers over the duration of the event. Next was Show Zero, the online-only, Diet Coke mega-sponsored faux premiere of Conan that has already attracted some 400,000 views on YouTube – an impressive, though not too Earth-shattering campaign. With his webisodes, Conan seemed to personally usher in a new, Web-friendly late night, but it wasn’t clear until today whether TBS would fully appease Conan’s already established Internet fanbase with full episodes watchable online.
(More on TIME: Conan, Night One Beats Networks By Stealing Their Young)
Today, an announcement on TeamCoco.com finally came, promising episodes would be available for streaming the morning after they’ve aired, unlike what TBS had done for Lopez Tonight. “Clips of our show WILL be available to everyone on Earth!,” the site announced. “Provided you have a computer and an Internet connection, of course. Ha ha. We ain’t gonna be transcribing our show and dropping leaflets into the jungles of South America, after all.” But who needs leaflets when you’ve got Twitter? Maybe Letterman.