You don’t hear any open talk about it at NBC, but the disturbing and honest truth for the Peacock network is that Jay Leno’s version of the TONIGHT SHOW continues to lag behind the ratings that Conan O’Brien drew when he hosted the TONIGHT SHOW only a few months ago. The fact of that matter is that NBC gained absolutely nothing by giving Conan O’Brien the heave-ho, and has actually lost ground in the late night talk TV rating wars.
True, Conan O’Brien managed to lose about half of Jay Leno’s old TONIGHT SHOW ratings, yet his version of the TONIGHT SHOW drew a 1.1 rating with adults 18-49, which is hundreds of thousands of viewers better than 1.0 share that Leno currently pulls. And the news for NBC only gets worse, as Leno’s show runs only slightly better than the 0.8 rating that Conan’s new TBS show pulls down. CONAN continues to pull down numbers just about equal to what David Letterman’s CBS show does. Both CONAN and THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN draw a virtual tie at 0.8 18-49 audience numbers, which translates into around 1.5 million viewers overall.
The good news here is that CONAN draws really decent numbers for a cable show to head-on compete with Dave Letterman’s numbers and runs only slightly behind the Jay Leno figures. The bad news for NBC is that Jay Leno seems to be permanently damaged goods now, where less viewers than ever care to tune in and watch. Further, CONAN now cuts itself a nice piece of the late night ratings pie, leaving only smaller pieces for both Leno and Letterman to share. Conan O’Brien must feel some vindication right now. He looks like a big winner here when the ratings are given the fine toothed comb analysis.
Not bad news for the self-deprecating giant red head who has bragged about looking a little bit like Big Bird.