James Hibberd at the Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog has taken a look at Conan O'Brien's first-week numbers, and he's reporting that O'Brien pulled in fewer viewers as the week wore on:
O'Brien's "Tonight" premiere garnered a massive 7.1 overnight metered-market household rating, then dropped 30% on Tuesday (5.0), slipped 14% on Wednesday (4.3), went down 12% on Thursday (3.8) and fell 8% on Friday (3.5).Hibberd reports that last night was the lowest-rated Friday episode of "Tonight" in six months. (Maybe Jay Leno's older viewers were more likely to be home at 11:30 on a Friday night, while O'Brien's fans were out seeing "The Hangover"?) However, Hibberd notes that Conan's competitors "were likewise down by a similar percentage when comparing Thursday to Friday."
Overall, "Tonight" bested "Late Show with David Letterman" by a 62% margin during its debut week. "The gap between O'Brien and Letterman narrowed nearly each night, however, with the CBS program pulling a 2.7 on Friday."
Talk Show News is really curious what will happen on Monday, when O'Brien faces some stiff competition: namely, Howard Stern on"Letterman" and "The Colbert Report"'s Stephen Colbert kicking off a week of shows from Baghdad, Iraq. Conan's guests, actors David Duchovny and Anna Friel and stand-up comic Bill Burr, don't have the star power to give the show a significant bump, so presumably the majority of the tune-in will be O'Brien's diehard fans. Of course, late night ratings are a marathon, not a sprint, but it's interesting how many people credit Jay Leno's rise to time slot dominance to one night with one guest: Hugh Grant.
Jacksonville.com writer Laura Capitano, who is not a regular viewer of either Letterman or O'Brien, watched the shows last week and commented on "how interchangeable the programs are." Indeed, O'Brien's Friday "Celebrity Survey" bit was not too far removed from Letterman comedy segments, and many of Conan's monologue jokes are fairly similar to Leno's; we could definitely picture Jay delivering this one, for instance: "North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is in the process of deciding who's going to be his successor, and the most likely person is his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un. Kim Jong-Un said he's excited, but realizes he's got some awfully big women's sunglasses to fill." Or this one: "Yesterday, Dick Cheney said his lesbian daughter Mary has convinced him to support gay marriage. Pretty cool, yeah. Cheney made the announcement after Mary was spotted waterboarding him."
We'd be interested to hear from any regular Leno fans who gave Conan a try this week. Are you reassured -- or counting the days 'til September?