Thursday, June 11, 2009

Late Night Ratings: NBC declares victory, Conan O'Brien crowned "the new king of late night"

After a grand total of eight shows, NBC has called it: Conan O'Brien is "the new king of late night."

The hotly awaited demographics on the "Tonight" vs. "Late Show with David Letterman" first week battle are in, and not surprisingly, it shows that the much-coveted younger demos tuned in to watch O'Brien in large numbers. According to an NBC press release, CoCo "won the week of June 1-5 with a 2.3 rating in the key measure of adults 18-49, the highest rated week for 'The Tonight Show' in more than four years, and a towering 156 percent margin over CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' in adults 18-49. Even excluding the highly rated premiere show on June 1, Conan won the week with a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 and by 111 percent over the CBS program (0.9)."

“This is beyond our wildest expectations,” said Rick Ludwin, Executive Vice President, Late Night and Primetime Series, NBC Entertainment. “Conan has brought new younger viewers to 11:35 pm and we're gratified that the demographic trend has continued here in week two, where the early numbers continue to show dominant victories, in all the key categories, for ‘The Tonight Show’.”

Guys, it's been one week. We know you're super excited (and want to put an end to the doom-and-gloom talk after Letterman beat O'Brien in overall ratings on Tuesday night), but turn down the hyperbole a notch, willya?

This came, incidentally, one day after NBC co-chair Marc Graboff declared that the late-night ratings game "is a marathon," not a sprint, and that this is a contest that will be fought over years.

Last night's ratings showed that more people tuned in to see Conan banter with Dane Cook than saw Letterman semi-apologize for his Palin jokes, though it was close: a 3.2 rating for Conan vs. 3.1 for Dave.

Meanwhile, Talk Show News wakes up every morning grateful to be under the age of 49, since once that Rubicon is crossed, no one will ever care about our viewing habits again. And you thought getting an invitation to join the AARP was painful.


  1. Santiago R. said...

    Talk about jumping the gun on this one for NBC. Even if Conan does beat Dave in the ratings consistently later on ,like Leno did, crowning him the new king of late night after a week is just beyond asinine.

    Conan will have a lock on the 18-49 demo, just because he comes from 12:30, where that was the bulk of the viewership. All those ppl are just happy they get to watch him earlier now and of course will follow him to 11:30 like I would have done if it didnt conflict with the superior choice (Late Show).

  2. chhetrimhn said...

    let me give u some straight talk***

    letterman is the king of late night for last 30 years.
    rating isn't everything___plus its not like david was way behind all this years.
    young guys prefer conan right now because conan is young himself. if dane cook had a show on air against conan, he will beat him__hands down.
    the important thing is comedy style___and letterman is way___i mean way better comedian than conan or leno.
    so nbc shut the fuck up.
    and let me tell you if conan beats letterman in ratings by the end of the month___i will stop watching tv.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Letterman is a shell of his former self and the same is true of his show. The show has been on a downward spiral for years in terms of quality. It's a shame to see it happen, as Dave basically created the post Carson comedy/talk show back in the 80's. For all those who appreciated the original NBC Late Night show, it's painfully obvious. Dave has turned into a crotchety old bastard who now has to apologize for lame/semi offensive jokes. Never would have happened back in the day. It's only a matter of time before Conan consistently beats him in the ratings.

    As a former fan, I hope Dave retires and enjoys raising his son out of the public eye. He certainly doesn't need the money anymore, and CBS needs to fill his spot with a younger host. Imagine the coup if CBS could manage to steal Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert away from Comedy Central.

  4. Santiago R. said...

    Just to clarify "Anonymous" (really brave not to leave at least a nickname by the way), Dave DIDNT apologize. He "demystified" the true meaning of his joke to a family of dumbasses (the Palins) and a couple of ill-thinking assholes who thought the jokes were directed at a minor.

    I cant compare todays Late Show with its former version, but in my opinion, the shows "quality" (as you put it Anon), is far superior than the other choices at the same time slot.

    Dave wouldnt be getting constant contract renewals from CBS if he was the crotchety old man with a failure of a show like you think he is.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Haha...after reading the above it's funny what difference a few days make. Now Dave IS beating Conan and Dave DID clearly apologize (multiple times) for the Palin joke.