Seismic Late Shift Gives Armchair TV Pundits Something To Yap About
You know what's funny about Hollywood? The fact that no one knows anything about anything. Take for example the matter of Conan's ratings decline, reported with no lack of Chicken Little hysterics by various trade outlets, newspapers and scandal sheets as spelling definitive doomsday for the National Broadcasting Company's ginger-peaked investment.
There's no disputing Conan's first week numbers were stellar, particularly among 18-49 demo, for which Conan delivered the highest-rated week more than four years and a 156% margin over CBS' Late Show. Drunk on these heady statistics, NBC's EVP of late night and primetime series Rick Ludwin fired off a press release declaring O'Brien "The New King of Late Night."
This is beyond our wildest expectations. Conan has brought new younger viewers to 11:35 pm and we're gratified that the demographic trend has continued here in week two, where the early numbers continue to show dominant victories, in all the key categories, for 'The Tonight Show'.
But the overall ratings were getting smaller. No matter that that was inevitable, and that the show would benefit from an artificial curiosity bubble that follows any passing of a torch on an institution like Tonight. Nikki Finke was first and loudest to toot the death trumpet, asking "WHAT'S ZUCKER GONNA DO NOW," and cleverly placing the network's miniature tyrant in a shoddily Photoshopped dunce cap.
The thing is, overnights for last night's broadcast reveal Conan to have bounced back 10% over Monday's show, with Tonight earning a 3.2 rating, versus Letterman's 3.1. (Apparently, America's hunger for Dane Cook outshone their hunger for child-rape-joke apologias.) <span
class="pullquote right">As some bimbo on Access Hollywood might say, 'The Late Night wars are heating up!'
Expect this ping pong match to go on like this through the summer -- until The Jay Leno Show debuts in September. Will the show promising "100% more comedy, 98% fewer murders" in the 10 o'clock hour siphon viewers away from or towards Conan's show? Or will audiences instead fill up on CBS forensics, then fall asleep at 11:29, rendering everyone a loser? Nobody knows anything.
Well, they know one thing: Jimmy Fallon will be Tweeting his little thumbs off through the entire thing.