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Conan O'Brien grabs 4.2 million viewers in TBS premiere

The good news for Conan O'Brien is that his talk-show premiere on TBS on Monday night blew away all rivals in the ratings, including Jon Stewart and even the man who took his place at NBC, Jay Leno.

The bad news is that O'Brien's hard work is just beginning.

The 11 p.m. "Conan" rounded up 4.2 million total viewers, according to early data from the Nielsen Co. That soared straight past NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (3.5 million) and CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" (3.4 million), both of which start at 11:35 p.m. Perhaps of more interest to late-night connoisseurs, however, was that in head-to-head competition during his hour-long time slot, "Conan" put a serious dent in the "Comedy Central" power block of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1.3 million) and "The Colbert Report" (1 million). Last Monday, "Daily Show" delivered 1.9 million viewers.

Best news of all for TBS? The youth of the "Conan" audience, which makes it a relatively easy sell for advertisers. The median age of the O'Brien viewer was 30, which is music to a marketer's ear. By comparison, the comparable figure for "Daily Show" was 38. For "Tonight," it was a relatively ancient 59. For "Letterman," it was 53. A more stark illustration of the generational dynamics among the various talk shows cannot be found.

The bad part for O'Brien, though, is that premieres, especially of talk shows, generally tell us very little. Most talk shows with big-name hosts attached generate very high numbers at first. Sometimes, these programs fizzle out over the ensuing months as novelty and viewer curiosity wane. That is what happened with Leno's disastrous prime-time talk show for NBC. O'Brien's real performance, therefore, won't be known for weeks or months.

But for now, O'Brien's decision to exit NBC rather than accept a post-Leno downgrade to the wee hours is looking very smart.

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Conan O'Brien performing his first monologue for TBS. Credit: Meghan Sinclair/TBS


Television review: "Conan"


Comments () | Archives (11)

most importantly it was really funny.

I'm so glad Conan is back. The show didn't reinvent the late-night wheel or anything, but it was funny.

Here's my funny short-list: The Onion, the late Mitch Hedberg, @TheOverthinkers on Twitter, old people dressed as squirrels, squirrels dressed as old people, squirrels attacking old people, and CONAN. It's good to have him back. Late-night is stale without him.

Coco's back! Our long national nightmare is over.


If in fact it/he was funny, it would be the first time since early Year 2000 skits. Unless one laughs at poorly timed and delivered lines written by people who think they are smarter than most everybody else (although they likely are actually not ..... or they would not be writing for this show) then this show will die quickly, much like Conan's ill fated attempted at hosting the venerable Tonight Show. He's one of the few people who can actually make Jay's version seem entertaining.
To those who think Conan is funny, put down the joint and watch it without actually being wasted.

@danfromwestlake: Watching it now without pharmaceuticals. This show is friggin hilarious. Go get yourself a sense of humor!

Conan did great! He seems more like the Late Night Conan I fell in love with in the first place; more laid back and comfortable. I am so glad he is back, and I hope he contiues to blow Jay Leno out of the water. I'M WITH COCO.

I agree with Jonny. As far as the late night wheel, it will never be reinvented by anyone. Johnny Carson invented that, and Conan continues to spin that very wheel. Leno thought he was going to reinvent the late night wheel, but he failed at that. So good to hear that Conan beat Leno's ass in the ratings. I can see NBC begging Conan to come back whenever his contract with TBS is up or whenever Jay Leno retires for good, whichever comes first. Then we can all say "See NBC, Team Coco told you so!"

The king of late night tv is back, all hail the king.

As for myself, though I could watch Stewart in his first timeslot without any problems, I prefer to watch it online at my convenience and where I can watch the extended interviews without sitting through a rehash. I was kind of disappointed that there doesn’t appear to be full episodes of Conan available and because it’d be a good way to attract non-regular viewers to the TBS site, it kind of strikes me as a missed opportunity to promote their other shows.
After all once I watch Conan, in addition to the sidebar ads, I might consider clicking around to see what else TBS may have available online.

@Charlie: You'll be glad to find out then that, in fact, full episodes of "Conan" are available on teamcoco. com, provided you live in the US. If you don't, then clips of each show are still available on the site - monologue, skits, interviews, musical guest.


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