For at least one
night on cable, Conan O'Brien was the king of late night.
In his heavily
promoted return to TV after being booted earlier this year from his job as host
of the venerable Tonight Show by NBC,
O'Brien's new show Conan drew 4.155
million viewers, beating his nemesis Jay Leno and all other competitors.
Conan on TBS was
also tops among younger viewers, drawing 3.285 million in the 18-49
demographic, beating Late Show with David
Letterman with 1.336 million and The Tonight
Show with Jay Leno with 952,000. TBS' Lopez Tonight, which aired after Conan,
was the fourth ranked talk show, drawing 883,000 viewers in the demo, and
besting Comedy Central's duo of The Daily
Show with Jon Stewart with 687,000 and The
Colbert Report with 551,000.
Conan also had the
youngest audience, with a median age of 30.
has been very vocal online, and he clearly made a smooth transition from
Twitter to TBS," said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. "Conan
delivered an extraordinary audience and stands out as the youngest late-night
talk show on television."
expected the first show to draw a big number, but expects the number to be
about 1 million viewers when the excitement settles down.
For the week of
Oct. 25, NBC's The Tonight Showwith Jay Leno averaged a 0.9 rating
among adults 18 to 49 and 3.6 million viewers overall and Late Show with David Letterman on CBS averaged a 1.0 rating and 3.8
million viewers. Nightline on ABC
averaged a 0.9 and 3.9 million viewers and Jimmy
Kimmel Live averaged a 0.5 and 1.8 million viewers. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon averaged a
0.5 and 1.7 million viewers.
competition, Conan faces off directly
against Comedy Central's Daily Show with
Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.
Season to date, the Daily Show has averaged a 0.8 rating among 18 to 49 year olds, representing 800,000
viewers. Daily Show averages 1.5
million total viewers. Colbert averages a 0.7 rating among 18-49 year olds, or
732,000 viewers in the demo. Colbert averages
1.15 million total viewers.
show featured several jokes about the unfortunate end to his late-night career
on NBC, and guests Seth Rogan, Lea Michele and Jack White.
In a blog post last
night, TV researcher Steven Sternberg said "TBS's relentless (and quite
good) promotional efforts should result in decent viewer sampling, but
then it will be up to him to maintain that audience. If he tries to
appeal to a younger audience, there are more than 20 cable networks in
primetime with average median ages under 40. He might be able to
accumulate enough viewers from them to survive, and maybe even thrive."
Reviews for Conan's
new show were mixed. "The first lines of this new chapter were promising, if
not quite the fulfillment of his last wild nights at NBC, when caution was thrown to the wind,"
wrote Robert Lloyd of the L.A. Times.
"Except that it was a constant subject of discussion and scripted humor, the
shift from broadcast to basic cable had no obvious effect on his presentation;
it neither inhibited nor liberated him. (They do still bleep the bad words.)"
Alessandra Stanley of the New
York Times noted "throughout the hour-long show, Mr. O'Brien dutifully made
jokes at his own expense . . . But he lingered perhaps a little too long and
self-indulgently on his émigré status." She concluded that "the show is called Conan but it felt at times like it
should be labeled I'm Not Jay."