Monday, July 6, 2009

More on Conan's young audience

Bill Carter of the New York Times has written an article examining the plummeting median viewer age of the "Tonight Show" audience under Conan O'Brien. It's a must-read for numbers junkies. "In Mr. O’Brien’s first month as host, the median age of 'Tonight Show' viewers has fallen by a decade — to 45 from 55, a startling shift in such a short time," he writes. "This audience composition means advertisers can now address almost exclusively young viewers on 'Tonight,' and NBC is already contemplating a shift in how it sells the show."

The piece reports that "Late Show with David Letterman" is up 50% among viewers over 50. But who cares about those oldsters? Not ad buyers! As John Rash, senior vice president of the Campbell-Mithun agency, told the Times, “All audiences have value, but the 18-to-49 audience has more value. You will make higher profits if you win with that audience. You can still say you’re the No. 1 show if you are more profitable.”

CBS' David Poltrack says he believes Letterman will eventually win the 35-to-54-year-old age group, and also points to Conan's declining ratings among female viewers. Of course, the article ends on a wait-and-see note; no one knows what'll happen in the fall, when Jay Leno will be back in the mix.