Isn't this a delicious sort of revenge for Conan O'Brien? Ratings numbers for his debut TBS broadcast are in and indicate that the talk-show host has attracted a bigger audience than Jay Leno's "Tonight Show."
The comedian's show, simply called "Conan," attracted 4.2 million viewers (3.3 million adults 18-49), beating out Leno's "Tonight Show," which reeled in 3.5 million viewers (950,000 adults 18-49), according to The Hollywood Reporter. Not only did CoCo top his former NBC colleague, but he also bested David Letterman's 3.4 million viewers (1.3 million adults 18-49) and far outstripped "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (1.3 million total viewers) and "The Colbert Report" (1 million total viewers).
"Conan's audience has been very vocal online, and he clearly made a smooth transition from Twitter to TBS," TBS president Steve Koonin said. "Conan delivered an extraordinary audience and stands out as the youngest talk show on television."
Whether "Conan" can sustain that ratings level in the weeks and months ahead — when viewers tuning into the show's premiere might begin clicking elsewhere on the dial — remains to be seen. At the moment, however, Conan and his crew are surely celebrating these numbers and savoring their victory over the network that booted him from his "Tonight Show" perch only months after he assumed it. As the host displayed during his TBS debut, he is still rankled by that acrimonious ouster.
"Welcome to my new show, 'Conan,' " he joked during the show. "People ask me why I named the show 'Conan.' I did it so I'd be harder to replace.
"I'm going to be honest: It's not easy doing a late-night show on a channel without a lot of money and that viewers have trouble finding," he added. "So that's why I left NBC."
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