Although he still had 2 years left on his contract, NBC feared they might lose Jimmy Fallon to Fox or HBO.
The NY Daily News says that among the many reasons that NBC named Fallon as the next host of the “Tonight” show this week was interest in the charismatic host from other networks, industry sources said.
Fallon, who signed a contract extension earlier this week, would have been free to entertain offers from other TV networks when his deal expired in 2015.
Some of those who were showing an early interest in scooping up the 38-year-old funnyman were Fox and HBO, insiders said.
Fox has long wanted to get into the late-night game and bombed in the arena during the 1990s with Chevy Chase, Joan Rivers and, later, Arsenio Hall.
The network also flirted with Conan O’Brien in 2009 following his ill-fated stint as the host of the “Tonight” show.
Leno made reference to the possibility of joining Fox earlier this week when he and Fallon addressed the “Tonight” transition in a musical sketch.
HBO has long been a champion of comedians and its interest in Fallon is not surprising.
Reps for HBO said they were unaware that any talks had taken place.
Fox officials declined to comment.
H/T NY Daily News