Thursday, June 18, 2009

Late Night Ratings: Is David Letterman winning over Jay's audience?

The latest set of numbers is out and it looks like Conan O'Brien is continuing to win in the "important audience categor[ies]" -- ouch, it must hurt to be over 49 and no longer be important -- but Dave is doing well when you just look at the numbers. "[W]hen all viewers are counted [Conan's] lead over Mr. Letterman is just over 100,000, with 3.771 million to 3.669 million for Mr. Letterman," reports the New York Times. The average age of Dave's viewers is 56.7, compared with 45.7 for Conan. (Jay Leno had a median viewer age of 55.7, so presumably the 10-year drop is why NBC is rejoicing.)

Conan scored 1.040 million 18-34-year-old viewers in his second week on the air, vs. Dave's 376,000. In the 18-49 category, Conan had 2.013 million viewers vs. 1.126 million for Dave. "Even in the oldest group that is used to sell to advertisers, viewers between 25 and 54," writes the Times' Bill Carter, "Mr. O’Brien had a commanding 38 per cent lead with 2.050 million viewers to 1.486 million for Mr. Letterman." Presumably some of Leno's disgruntled 55+ viewers have started switching over to CBS at 11:35; hopefully "Late Show" won't be inundated with ads for adult diapers and erectile dysfunction drugs, a la the old-skewing evening network news programs.

Meanwhile, Aaron Barnhart's analysis of Conan's first couple of weeks makes some fresh points, especially about the frenetic audience reaction when Coco walks out on stage:

I watched the clock and on Wednesday’s broadcast it took Conan 97 seconds from the end of Richter’s “O’Brieeen” to introducing his first joke. Most of that 97 seconds consisted of the crowd going nuts, Conan telling the crowd to calm down, the crowd going nuts some more, Conan looking nervously impatient, etc. On Tuesday’s show the delay was 77 seconds, and Monday’s “Tonight” monologue started 95 seconds after the host walked out. By comparison, the host of the CBS “Late Show” started his first joke a brisk 39 seconds after Kalter’s “Lllllletterman!”
Talk Show News has noticed the same thing happening on "The Colbert Report" -- on last night's show, it took 55 seconds for the audience to settle down. Now, we have attended many a live taping and know that the warm-up guys try their darndest to get everybody pumped before the show starts. But if you are watching at home, it is annoying. Viewers tune in to see comedy, not listen to applause.


  1. Judd said...

    Not necessarily. I enjoy watching the audience go nuts and Conan trying to control them. "Keep cool, my babies," is one of CoCo's classic, best lines.

  2. Anonymous said...

    hey judd i am not a conan hater, but most of his jokes are pretty lame. and he is not a skilled interviewer.
    letterman on the other hand tells about 10-15 jokes on his monologue. and about 90% of them are funny__i would want letterman to tell few political jokes coz election is now over but still get a kick outta em'.
    and he is an excellent interviewer, in fact there is no one better than him.
    the reason conan has more younger viewers is because he is youung himself___so he appeals to more younger viewers like stewart and colbert.
    but 3.6 millions total viewers in his first few weeks is not a good sign... letterman will take over soon.
    plus leno_ the dummy will be back soon at 10 pm then conan and leno have to fight for the guests___so the ratings will even go down for conan.
    the 3.6 millions viewers for letterman are his loyal viewers, they are not gonna go away- so in few weeks he will get more viewers from nbc. so as i can see letterman will be the king again that he used to be.
    remember when letterman was young in 80's and 90's he used to be the dominant tv host...averaging 7.9 millions viewers compared to 3.7 conan or 4.9 leno.
    anyway, conan is a nice guy__but remember he is still a kid in television world when it comes to late night comedy_ stewart and colbert are catching up ...leno always sucked....
    latterman is the king of late night comedy for past 30 years....period. end of discussion.

  3. Anonymous said...

    anonymous said it all in a nutshell. bravo!

  4. Steve K. said...

    Anonymous (who congratulated himself on a job well done in the next post) could've said it way shorter: "I like Letterman - end of discussion". No facts on the 'who's funnier' scale, mister (or not?), only opinions.

    Conan doesn't seem to be trying to win anyone over, he's just doing his Late Night thing an hour earlier, which apparently is bad for the ratings, but is definitely good for me.

  5. Steve K. said...

    Oh, and like Judd, i also enjoy him calming the audience down at the beginning and his ad-libbing throughout the monologue. Gives the thing a nice flow and sometimes makes for really funny spontaneous bits.

  6. Santiago R. said...

    Like Judd said, I enjoy watching Conan say "keep cool mah babies", but sometimes it does get a bit annoying when the crowd just wont shut up.

    It was alright in "Late Night" cuz they were "used" to him and they would shut up in a shorter time, but now that hes moved to Tonight, the crowds have become exceedingly crazy and it takes freaking ages for them to quiet down. This of course prompts Conan to make the same kind of comments over and over, like "thats sounding angry now", "sounds like a bunch of pirates", "sounds like cavemen are in the audience" and so on.

    I guess there are only so many things you can come up with in that particular situation.

  7. Santiago R. said...

    I agree with anonymous that Dave is the best interviewer out there, and hes got a terrific team of writers, and that topped with his excelent delivery, makes the monologue a pleasure to watch as opposed to Lenos, which was way too long and I couldnt wait till it ended.

    As Steve K. said, giving your opinion is fine, but making definitive statements like "Letterman will take over soon", might not be the best way to go about it.

  8. Anonymous said...

    Conan's already got a week of repeats coming up?! Has it even been a month yet? Yeah Conan, take a break!!!