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Conan O'Brien: Twitter 'saved' my career

Talk show host credits social media with giving him exposure when he couldn't be seen on TV anymore.

Twitter gave Conan O'Brien a place to tell jokes when he couldn't be on TV.
Vanity Fair

Conan O'Brien thanks social media for rescuing his career.

The comedian and talk show host said Wednesday that if it weren't for an organic uprising of fans on Twitter, he would not have his show on TBS. O'Brien, who left NBC in 2010 over a "Tonight Show" scheduling disagreement, credited the social network at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in San Francisco.

"I didn't choose social media," he said during an onstage interview. "I'm a bit of a luddite, [so] I was very much taken by surprise."

Conan went on to explain that due to contractual obligations, he was essentially shut out from appearing on TV. In his search for new avenues of exposure, O'Brien recounted how he helped create a new channel for digital branding and distribution by telling his jokes on Twitter.

"Because I was legally not allowed to be on television, I started a Twitter account, which blew up overnight," said O'Brien, who now has more than 22 million Twitter followers and 4.5 million YouTube followers. "That's how I sold out a national tour. That became a model for other people, who said I want to do what Conan did. And that led to TBS.

"We've been committed to digital ever since, because without it, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have a career. That saved me."