Dave Beats Conan: Panic at NBC?

Jun 10, 2009  •  Post A Comment

No, there isn’t any panic at NBC, as far as I know. But don’t be surprised if somebody in the Internetosphere starts sounding alarm bells now that…

David Letterman has scored his first nightly win over Conan O’Brien!

Boosted by a visit from Julia Roberts, CBS’s "Late Show" earned a 3.4/8 in Nielsen’s local metered markets Tuesday, a half ratings-point ahead of NBC’s "The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien." The Letterman win ended six straight nights of O’Brien dominance in the ratings.

Letterman’s ratings were up double digits compared to the same Tuesday a year ago, while O’Brien was down a similar margn compared to what Jay Leno had averaged.

While this result will no doubt be parsed and spun and overinterpreted in the coming hours, it’s worth pointing out once again — as TV MoJoe has several times in the past week, even when O’Brien was winning handily– that in late night, household numbers don’t matter. Demographic data does.

The thinking on O’Brien is that he does better with folks under 50. And household numbers tend to skew older. So even if Dave beat Conan in the overnights, there’s a chance he could yet prevail in the final demos.

In the case of Tuesday’s ratings, NBC also notes that because of hockey playoffs coverage, west coast stations actually aired local programming in primetime, potentially diminishing Conan’s lead-in. (Actually, I wonder if "Access Hollywood" and other syndicated fare might not perform better than some of NBC’s primetime shows. But that’s off-topic).

The rollercoast ratings derby takes another turn tomorrow when Nielsen releases official ratings for Conan’s first week. Don’t be surprised if that headline is, "Conan Trounces Dave in Debut Week."

And the War nobody wanted slouches forward….



  1. i find conan to be very talentless and dave is well tiring. I miss leno at 11:30..now i just watch whats on my dvr

  2. Yes even with irrelevant HS on Monday he couldn’t do it. That has got to be very DEMORALIZING to HS. NO pull. Maybe he should have dropped more “names” of “has beens” that were at his wedding to a gold digger.

  3. I see the Opie and Anthony losers are obsessing over Howard Stern. Yes, Howard Stern is a winner and Opie and Anthony are losers.

  4. The management at NBC must be ex wallstreet people. They think they can fix anything to their advantage. This time they never realized they put all the money on Conan the destroyer. The Tonite Show will fail with a person like Conan. They can spin it as much as they want, it won’t matter. I predict Conan gets the boot in less than four months!

  5. NBC should have gone with Jimmy Fallon for the Tonight Show replacement of Jay Leno. He is much more of a comedian and talent than Conan.

  6. It seems a little early to make judgements on the ratings of both Letterman and Conan. Any new show with a strong talent is bound to gain some curious viewers to see how well it stacks up against the competition. However, only a few ratings books will smell the trend as to who’s consistant. That being said, last night’s Conan monologue seemed poorly written with bits that seemed ill-conceived and a host who was clearly nervous and not up to his game. Either his writers were really pissed at his off-air attitude and decided to turn in junk as a vendetta, or they were all stoned on Jack Daniels laughing at anything that seemed funny in a stupor. Just not that classy, but rather soporific in nature. I like Conan, however, his Wednesday night (6.10.2009) performance drew a large fart on the whoopie cusion!-)
    – Andrew, MALL727.net –

  7. >No, there isn’t any panic at NBC, as far as I know.
    Then why the headline? Oh, right, tabloid journalism at its finest! But I digress…
    As far as Conan, how many time can he lick his fingers and touch his nipples? Not funny, sorry.
    And what is up with the blue shirts every night that blend in with his background? Anyway, I’ve given him a chance, back to Letterman!

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