Hey, NBC: Carson Daly’s Ready for 12:30

Edited by Joel Topcik

Late-night host Carson Daly is throwing his hat into the ring for the 12:30 a.m. slot on NBC if and when Conan O’Brien jumps to 11:30 p.m. in 2009.

Daly, whose Last Call With Carson Daly on NBC is celebrating five years in the 1:30 a.m. slot, says he hasn’t talked to the network yet.

“The only thing I can do,” he says, “is say to the network, 'We want to be in the position where we are considered a 12:30 replacement when that happens.’”

Daly says he isn’t bitter that NBC declined to name him O’Brien’s successor at 12:30 when the network announced O’Brien will succeed Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. “I would be presumptuous to have an opinion on that,” he says. “I’m lucky I’m on the air.”

For now, Daly says he’ll focus on polishing Last Call, which has added more comedy to go with the guests and music elements. He also just completed a presentation to NBC for It’s Your Show, a concept for a primetime competition series featuring user-generated content.

And although he covets the 12:30 slot, Daly has enjoyed the freedom of being on later.

“I think we have made great strides, and this stealthfully improving seems to work well for us,” he says. “That’s the beautiful thing about being on while America sleeps. Each day, you have the chance to try something and find a comfort level.”

Super Ads, Average Def

Advertisers may have agreed to the record $2.6 million for a 30-second spot during CBSSuper Bowl XLI broadcast. But not all were willing to cough up the premium—perhaps an additional 10% in production costs—for delivering their spots in HD.

By our count, 22 of the 69 Super Bowl commercials ran in SD, including those from luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and technology companies like Motorola.

Ten of those standard-def ads, such as Blockbuster’s “mouse” spot, were in the 4:3 aspect ratio used by analog TVs. The rest were shot in widescreen but “letter-boxed” for 4:3 screens. So on a 16:9 HD screen, the ads appeared as a smaller widescreen image, with black borders on all four sides.

Since less than 15% of TV households receive HD, it’s understandable that some advertisers passed on the cost of hi-def—even for the Super Bowl, which typically features far more HD ads than normal programming on the broadcast networks.

But some standard-def holdouts were surprising—and more than a little ironic. Toshiba, for one, ran an ad produced for conventional screens that touted its HD-DVD high-definition disc player—a product designed specifically for widescreen HDTV sets.

A Toshiba spokesman insists the spot was produced and broadcast in HDTV. But it sure didn’t fill our screen.

Media Glitchfest

For us, the phrase “Media Summit” suggests the pinnacle of human communications. Sadly, however, that pinnacle was not reached at McGraw-Hill’s Media Summit in New York last week, when persistent A/V problems turned the conference into a comedy of glitches.

During the keynote address by InterActiveCorp. CEO Barry Diller, the video feed in the overspill room froze repeatedly, often for several painful seconds. The stuttering video made it look like Diller was doing the robot dance. And the audience groaned as the audio and video seized up just after he remarked about “symbiosis between audio and video.”

Throughout a “Television 2.0” session for an audience of a few hundred, some panelists’ microphones were so quiet that only those in the front could hear—despite cries of “We can’t hear you!” Even fewer could hear the questions from the floor, since no microphone was provided. Bored media types began tapping on their BlackBerrys before leaving altogether.

And that’s not all. You couldn’t hear at “Enhanced Advertising” or the keynote roundtable. Rupert Murdoch’s mike cut out five minutes into his presentation, prompting a roadie to jump onstage and rewire the News Corp. boss.

A rep from Digital Hollywood, which produced the show, blames “static electricity” for problems at one panel. Otherwise, he says, all went as expected: “Par for the course.”

With Ben Grossman, Glen Dickson and Michael Malone