Conan O'Brien renewal by TBS shows the power of 'Team Coco'
Team Coco makes a powerful ally.
TBS announced Wednesday that it is renewing "Conan," the nightly talk show hosted by former "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien, through April 2014 -- despite some disappointing ratings that have had TV veterans buzzing about the show's performance.
In the release, TBS pointed directly to the power of "Team Coco," as O'Brien's rabid fans describe themselves. The host has more than 5 million Twitter followers, "more than any other late-night host," according to the network. Video clips from the show on YouTube and elsewhere drew 83 million views in 2011.
That's all well and good, but TBS doesn't sell ads or collect subscriber revenue on Twitter. "Conan" has in 2012 averaged 1.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen -- not bad for a cable talk show but far below totals for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "The Late Show With David Letterman" or even "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."
The renewal is "a little surprising considering Conan's audience delivery is not that much different [than how] George Lopez had been performing when he got axed," said Brad Adgate, an analyst at New York ad firm Horizon Media.
But TBS is counting on growth. The network says "Conan" has delivered three consecutive months of improving ratings. And his audience does skew young: Nearly three-quarters are in the 18-49 age demographic favored by advertisers. Throw in the relatively low cost of making a talk show and you end up with a show that should be delivering a reliable -- if not huge -- profit.
In the release, O'Brien joked, "This means I'll be taping episodes of 'Conan' well into the Ron Paul presidency."
-- Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: Conan O'Brien won't have to look for a new home in late night. Credit: Art Streiber / TBS