Conan Debut: Highest Monday ‘Tonight’ Ratings in 4 Years

Jun 2, 2009  •  Post A Comment


New "Tonight Show" host Conan O’Brien got off to a rousing ratings start Monday, beating CBS’ "Late Show with David Letterman" and generating strong sampling, TVWeek’s TVMoJoe blog reports.

O’Brien’s debut notched a 7.1 rating/17 share in Nielsen’s 56 overnight metered markets, the best Monday metered markets for the "Tonight" franchise in four years.

The first reviews of O’Brien as host of "The Tonight Show" were generally positive while not overly gushy, the blog says.

It’s a far cry from the reviews he earned 16 years ago when he debuted as host of "Late Night," the publication points out. "If you like what he does — and I do — odds are you’ll be happy for the chance to see him do it an hour earlier," wrote Robert Bianco, TV critic for USA Today, while Time’s James Poniewozik called O’Brien "polished, off-the-cuff funny, dapper, poised—but not, substantively, all that different from the Conan of ‘Late Night’," TVMoJoe says.

The blog adds that the toughest review came from the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik, who took issue with O’Brien’s decision to devote so much time to pre-taped segments rather than a monologue, writing that "a host who launches his new career by opting for the safe, is not someone I’m going to praise."

—Aimee Picchi