The New Stuff

DVRs Are Deceiving Ratings For Conan


Last Wednesday, Conan O’Brien once again assured and verified to his loyal viewers that all is well with Team Coco. “Everything has worked out great for me,” said O'Brien regarding his recent relocation from NBC's “Tonight Show” over to the TBS network.

As it turns out, based on his particular demographics, with the biggest draw being the 18-34 ages (the youngest demo) and their utilization of technology, it looks as though DVRs are a big contributing factor as to why Conan's ratings have seemed to decline since his first show, according to the numbers.

The New York Times reported that, “The numbers included DVR playback from recorded editions of “Conan” – and not surprisingly, Mr. O’Brien has been the most played-back show in late night since his premiere on TBS Nov. 8. Jeff Ross, the executive producer of Mr. O’Brien’s show, said younger viewers, Mr. O’Brien’s core constituency, tend to be much more avid about recording shows and playing them back later.”

Now even with the DVR numbers calculated in to the late night pool, “Conan” still regularly trails Jay Leno over at the “Tonight Show.” You can probably imagine how a top-dog host would feel about a guy that “stole” back his role and then beats you in the ratings. It's kind of like that older brother who constantly outshines you and reminds you on a daily basis. It's bound to stir some hostility. The Times goes on to report that these negative feelings were indeed confirmed on Wednesday when O'Brien was asked straight out if he would ever consider speaking with Leno again, to which O’Brien replied, flatly, “no.” Later, he mentioned having had a recent phone conversation with the other late-night king, CBS’s David Letterman. When it comes to their personal relationship, “We’ve always been good,” Conan commented. Yeah, not a big surprise when you take into account their mutual passion of disdain for Leno. You may recall the very public battle between Leno and Letterman when it came time to replace NBC's Johnny Carson. To this day, Letterman is very vocal about Leno's “weaselly” ways that he once again saw resurrected with the whole Conan debacle.

The Times pointed out that this trend that Conan's audience has fallen in to with DVRing is not common. “In general late-night shows do not tend to have big increases in playback because the shows are topical and don’t have a long shelf life.” According to released TBS figures, “ 'Conan' has been growing by an average of 236,000 viewers a night in that 18-34 group, and by 361,000 in the larger 18-49-year-old group, which is usually the chief measuring stick for late-night success.” And don't worry, if you've gotten to this point and need to take a break from the article, you're probably around 18-34...so feel free to pause, rewind, and play with it again later. We'll be right here. Just don't delete!

(Image from Team Coco)

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