2ND UPDATE: It was a great opening for Conan O’Brien on TBS last night. The comedian’s eponymous talk show drew big 4.2 million viewers and massive 3.3 million adults 18-49 and 2.5 million in 18-34 to rank as the top-rated latenight show on TV – broadcast or cable – last night. This was an impressive 2/3+ of the audience he attracted for his debut on NBC’s The Tonight Show in May 2009. Conan ranked as the No.1 latenight talk show telecast of all time on basic cable, beating The Daily Show‘s Oct. 29, 2008 edition. It also topped all other latenight telecasts in basic cable history. The show’s median age was also impressive: 30, the lowest among all latenight shows and half of that for the big broadcast latenight franchises.
Conan towered over its direct competition, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1.3 million; 690,000 in 18-49) and The Colbert Report (1 million; 550,000 in 18-49) and also beat its broadcast counterparts, Leno (3.5 million, 952,000 in 18-49) and Letterman (3.4 million; 1.3 million in 18-49). While Leno and Letterman are not direct competitors as their airtime is shifted by a half-hour, beating soundly The Tonight Show must have been gratifying for Conan following his dismissal from the show 9 months ago. Despite having direct latenight show competition for the first time, The Daily Show was pretty resilient in total viewers, down a modest 13% from its season-to-date Monday viewer average. The hit was bigger in the 18-49 demographic, 21%. Colbert at 11:30 PM followed a similar pattern (down 12% in total viewers, 25% in 18-49 from its season average.) Stewart opened his show by congratulating O’Brien on his return to TV until he “realized” Conan was airing opposite him. (video below the chart.)