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Conan's TBS debut clocks 4.2 million, beats all late-night talk show competitors

By Lisa de Moraes

[This post has been updated with ratings information.]

About 4.2 million people watched Conan's debut on Monday, handily beating his late night talk show competition, TBS reports Tuesday.

NBC's "The Tonight Show" -- the gig Conan left when that network wanted to move him to just after midnight to make room for a new Jay Leno late-night show -- snagged an average of 3.5 million viewers Monday night, while David Letterman's CBS late night show clocked 3.4 million. Over at Comedy Central, Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" averaged 1.3 million people and "The Colbert Report" about 1 million.

TBS noted nearly 2.5 million of Conan's first-night crowd fell into the 18-to-34-year-old age bracket. This is important because 18-34 year olds are, to Madison Avenue advertising execs, what buxom brunette hookers are to Charlie Sheen -- and TBS is an ad-supported basic cable network.

Meanwhile, having Conan for a lead-in appears to have goosed George Lopez, ratings-wise, at least on Night 1, despite the one-hour time shift. "Lopez Tonight" averaged nearly 1.4 million viewers Monday -- 571,000 of them aged 18-34 years. Since the start of the official 2010-11 TV season in mid September, Lopez, at 11, had been averaging 784,000 viewers -- 264,000 of whom are 18-34 year olds.

So one night in, the launch of "Conan" is going well. But let's not get too excited -- when he debuted as host of "The Tonight Show" his audience plunged 50 percent in a week -- in part because so many curious people who don't regularly watch late-night TV checked it out the first night.

With all the hoopla there's been about Conan leaving NBC, being canonized by his fans, going on tour, being hired at TBS, etc., he's sure to get a lot of samplingh is first week on TBS. The real test will be how his show is doing in the ratings a few months from now.

"Last season on 'Conan'," late night host Conan O'Brien's new TBS series opened Monday night.

"You want me to move 'The Tonight Show' to 12:05? Forget it! Go to hell!'," Coco barks into a telephone.

"What can they do to me?" he asks the camera -- kicking off a late-night show debut his fans will be raving about for years. We only wished he hadn't jumped so quickly into the latest vacuous celebrity interviews - on Monday night with Seth Rogen and Lea Michele -- enlivened mostly with naughty jokes, in Rogen's case and "me, me me" talk in Michele's.

Anyway, here's "Conan's" already much-buzzed-about TBS unveiling:

By Lisa de Moraes  | November 9, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  Conan O'Brien  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jon Stewart welcomes Conan O'Brien to his timeslot
Next: 'Dancing With the Stars': Kurt Warner goes home


Guess what? He's still not funny.

Posted by: 6thandD | November 9, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

This article would be a lot more interesting if it noted what his ratings were at NBC or gave us some other means of comparison. How are readers supposed to know what to make of this number? I have no idea if 4.2 million is a lot or not in TV ratings.

Posted by: Quackgrass | November 9, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Watched it last night.

The monologue was ok, and I like Seth Rogan and Jack White, but I don't really watch these late night talk shows.

My 19 yo son said he probably wouldn't watch it again, but he doesn't watch NBC or CBS late night either, mostly just Daily Show or Colbert, which we both enjoy, or Chelsea Handler.

Posted by: WillSeattle | November 9, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Conan, I think your funny as h*ll. Just please get rid of that horrible set - the colors are VERY depressing. Go back to some city lights - Vegas baby!!!

Posted by: truthbomb | November 9, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I watched the first 15 min. He still is lame & sometimes creepy. He thinks it's funny for middle aged men to act like naughty 13 yo boys. That gets boring very fast.

Posted by: 1observer | November 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Now that the show has started will they stop airing the stupid commercials? If nothing else, they alone will make me not bother to watch once.

Posted by: Secesh | November 9, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

CONAN is awesome. long live CONAN. been a fan since i was 13 and i'm 27 now.

Posted by: destewar | November 9, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Conan, I gave it a try last night and I have to say, thanks for reminding me why I watch "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report". I'm sorry I cheated Jon and Stephen. It won't happen again.

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