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Old January 28 2011, 09:18 AM   #1
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Conan falls, Leno still #1

TV by the Numbers just posted an interesting chart, showing the ratings for all the top late night talk shows for the past few weeks, in the key 18-49 demo.



Read the full article here.

I find it very interesting that despite all the internet buzz, Conan is now tying/losing to The Daily Show in the key demo, and coming in #4 among late night talk shows. And despite all the hate against Leno, he's still got the #1 late night talk show.

I think this shows that NBC was right to dump Conan in favor of Jay. Jay is still winning the target demo despite increased competition from Conan on TBS. It's probably fair to say that if NBC had let Leno go to another network, he would be beating Conan's Tonight Show right now, or at least giving it a serious run for its money.

Also, the TBS execs have got to be concerned right now. I know they said they would run Conan forever with these numbers, but I think with all the internet buzz, they were at least expecting him to beat Letterman. They can't be happy with him not even beating Jon Stewart.
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Old January 28 2011, 09:28 AM   #2
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

Leno is a safe bet...even the internet can't effect that too much. Conan needed to be on FOX to beat Leno or Letterman...not everyone has cable.

[edit] FOX is stupid for not doing a Late night program with Conan.
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Old January 28 2011, 10:29 AM   #3
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

As tired as I am of Conan fan boys spinning the numbers in his favor, in all fairness he is on cable. It isn't realistic to expect him to beat Leno.
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Old January 28 2011, 11:29 AM   #4
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

And yet, Jay Leno is still unfunny.

It's really difficult to accurately determine this situation, because it was so unique. Had NBC allowed Conan O'Brien to flourish, like they did Jay Leno, he might have found his groove and the ratings for his Tonight Show might have stabilized. The fact is, Jay Leno was doing pretty badly in primetime, and they never should have given him a primetime show.

Which falls back to Leno. When NBC basically told him they were planning on replacing Leno with Conan back in 2004, he probably should have just went quietly into the night, like he was planning on doing, and then not spring the complete opposite on NBC just as Conan was about to takeover. It wasn't fair to NBC, who scrambled and tried to appease all parties, and it definitely wasn't fair to Conan.

It all doesn't really, matter, though, because now that Leno's been back on the air for a while his ratings will stabilize, and it was and never will be fair to compare his ratings to Conan, who's on basic cable, and doesn't nearly have the viewer base that Leno and/or Letterman can tap into. However, to be completely fair, Conan always had a niche sense of humor, which isn't exactly broadly accessible. He never really should have hosted The Tonight Show anyway, since his brand of humor is more absurdest, and the type of humor that the show requires is more bland, mainstream humor, which is what Leno can provide.
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Old January 28 2011, 02:53 PM   #5
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

MichaelDornFan wrote: View Post
As tired as I am of Conan fan boys spinning the numbers in his favor, in all fairness he is on cable. It isn't realistic to expect him to beat Leno.
Yeah, you can't compare cable numbers to broadcast numbers whatsoever. Cable is vastly more competitive, so audiences are more fragmented.
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Old January 28 2011, 03:08 PM   #6
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

Leno lead to say hes on network and Conan is on cable is unimpressive. Conan would probably be doing better than Leno currently is on NBC if he was still on the network...simple fact Jay Leno was brought in to do better and has failed.
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Old January 28 2011, 03:12 PM   #7
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

Jetfire wrote: View Post
FOX is stupid for not doing a Late night program with Conan.
Fox's head of programming wanted it to happen, but Fox's affiliate stations vetoed it.
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Old January 28 2011, 04:02 PM   #8
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

actually more impressed that Conan and Stewart are hanging with the big boys despite being on cable and being a lot more fragmented/unavailable than NBC/CBS, etc. Leno or Letterman get a certain percentage just by being on the network (although calling NBC a real network these days... )
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Old January 28 2011, 06:24 PM   #9
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

Out Of My Vulcan Mind wrote: View Post
Jetfire wrote: View Post
FOX is stupid for not doing a Late night program with Conan.
Fox's head of programming wanted it to happen, but Fox's affiliate stations vetoed it.
It's not that the affiliates revolted (that's what happened with NBC and Leno's primetime show), it's that since Fox does its nightly news at 9 p.m. (Central) as opposed to the 10 p.m. slot that everyone else does, Fox affiliates across the country have syndication deals set in stone for the 10 p.m. - 12 a.m. hours, many of which are long-term. Fox would have had to buy out all of those contracts.
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Old January 28 2011, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

I'm not so sure the "basic cable excuse" will fly anymore, when you've got 12 million people watching iCarly on Nickelodeon, 8 million watching Jersey Shore on MTV, or 7 million watching The Game on BET.

Adult Swim regularly gets a 1.0 in the demo, and it's on at the same time as Conan. You can't tell me more people get Cartoon Network than TBS.

And Conan got 4 million viewers on his first night, so clearly there are enough people who know how to find TBS on the dial. I think what happened is that a lot of people tuned in because of the hype, saw that Conan's show was pretty much an exact clone of his Tonight Show that they never watched, and never bothered to tune in again.
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Old January 28 2011, 06:44 PM   #11
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

I think Leno also benefits from still having "The Tonight Show" hook. Some people will watch it just for the name, just because they grew up with Johnny Carson.
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Old January 28 2011, 06:51 PM   #12
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

Danny99 wrote: View Post
I think Leno also benefits from still having "The Tonight Show" hook. Some people will watch it just for the name, just because they grew up with Johnny Carson.
It also benefits from having the local news lead-in, as opposed to whatever crappy re-run or old movie that TBS is leading with.
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Old January 28 2011, 07:03 PM   #13
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

JacksonArcher wrote: View Post
And yet, Jay Leno is still unfunny.
However, as you go on to note, these shows are very rarely about who's funniest. They're about being reliably pleasant. Jay, for all his flaws, ran the Tonight Show as something that was/is consistently watchable. His monologues are never offensive. He makes the guests comfortable. Late Night talk shows are really the TV version of comfort food and while Leno's stuff is a bit bland it's never upsetting or uncomfortable.

It's really difficult to accurately determine this situation, because it was so unique. Had NBC allowed Conan O'Brien to flourish, like they did Jay Leno, he might have found his groove and the ratings for his Tonight Show might have stabilized. The fact is, Jay Leno was doing pretty badly in primetime, and they never should have given him a primetime show.
Yeah. Conan had Jay's primetime show as a lead-in. Jay has hit NBC series.

Which falls back to Leno. When NBC basically told him they were planning on replacing Leno with Conan back in 2004, he probably should have just went quietly into the night, like he was planning on doing, and then not spring the complete opposite on NBC just as Conan was about to takeover. It wasn't fair to NBC, who scrambled and tried to appease all parties, and it definitely wasn't fair to Conan.
Listen. I much prefer Conan to Jay (or Dave). But this whole "Jay should have just quit" thing is a little unfair to him.

Jay was winning his time slot. He was not ready to retire. The network basically fired him to try something different. Then, when he made noise about doing what anyone who's fired would do (look for another job), the suits paid him to stay with the company. No one forced them to do that. That was the first slap in the face Conan.

Then, when Jay's new show wasn't working and Conan's new show wasn't (in the minds of NBC at least working), NBC had a choice. They could have bought out Jay or they could have bought out Conan. They chose Jay. That was slap two.

Jay did what most people would do when offered a job he wanted. He accepted it. And, let's face it, if Jay hadn't, there's no reason to assume NBC would have gone after Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Garry Shandling, or anyone else they thought would get higher ratings that Conan.

Really, the villain is isn't Jay. It's the idiot executive who set this up in the first place and then kept compounding the problem.
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Old January 28 2011, 07:21 PM   #14
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

the G-man wrote: View Post
Yeah. Conan had Jay's primetime show as a lead-in. Jay has hit NBC series.
Uhh... exactly what hit series does NBC have at 10pm right now?

This idea that Conan failed because he had Jay as a lead-in is a total fallacy. CBS has the strongest primetime lineup of all the networks and regularly wins the 10pm hour. And yet, despite this fantastic lead-in, Letterman still loses to Jay.


Then, when Jay's new show wasn't working and Conan's new show wasn't (in the minds of NBC at least working), NBC had a choice. They could have bought out Jay or they could have bought out Conan. They chose Jay. That was slap two.
It was going to cost NBC way more to buy out Jay than to buy out Conan. And they had to be afraid of Jay going to ABC and putting a massive dent in their ratings. NBC made the best financial decision they could possibly make, given the F'd up circumstances they found themselves in a year ago.
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Old January 28 2011, 07:30 PM   #15
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Re: Conan falls, Leno still #1

No one ever expected he would beat Leno on TBS. Or the Daily Show, for that matter. This isn't especially noteworthy
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