Conan O'Brien's move to TBS appears to have with it only one tangible benefit:
Money and promises? No doubt. In the deal he made to move his late-night show to TBS, Mr. O’Brien reportedly secured a personal salary in line with what he had at NBC for his abbreviated “Tonight” show run, and a show budget, which, while lower, will still enable him to put on a similar show. He will also gain ownership of the show.
Creative ownership is a really big thing, and something that mean the very happiness of a creator. Alan Moore, creator of the graphic novels Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell, didn't have creative control when he wrote his characters for DC Comics. His work has subsequently been made into films that he vehemently disapproves of.
The creator ownership could have been offered to O'Brien elsewhere, however. It's not hard to imagine HBO, Showtime or another high profile channel giving him the same rights. They probably would have been able to pay beyond his NBC pay as well.
I think I know why he chose TBS, however. It's the same reason why I'm attracted to smaller state and private schools, instead of the huge universities with more name credibility.
The "elite" establishments in the United States are chock full of some of those meglomeniacal and non-self-aware people in the world. The success has gotten to their head, and they seem to have swallowed the notion that they must become vapid to become successful. A childhood friend of mine became like this when he went to Georgetown, becoming a different person entirely as he joined the Ivy League.
I'm pretty sure this was the experience O'Brien got with the bigshots over at NBC. Leno certainly must have an ego even bigger than his chin. George Lopez certainly seems like a more loveable soul than Leno, and has been more than accomodating for O'Brien.
They say the top is better than the bottom. That's not necessarily true.