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The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien: Respectable Premiere Ratings; Cancel or Keep Conan?

The Tonight Show with Conan O'BrienLast night, Conan O’Brien began his reign as the host of The Tonight Show. As the NBC promos have reminded us, the red-haired comedian is only the fifth person to hold the position and he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill.

For the first episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, the host seemed very much at ease. Of course, hosting Tonight isn’t a far cry from his previous job. Though he’s moved to the West Coast, much about the new show seemed the same. That may help or hurt him since his old show’s ratings haven’t been as solid as Tonight’s have been.

In terms of number for last night’s show, O’Brien’s debut performed well but it wasn’t extraordinary. It was the highest rated episode of Tonight since January 24, 2005. That was a tribute to Johnny Carson who’d died the day before.

Compared to the usual ratings for Tonight, MediaWeek reports that O’Brien’s first episode attracted 82% more viewers in the overnights than the second quarter average, a 7.1 rating. That’s 154% higher than last night’s Late Show with David Letterman and a much bigger win over Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Of course, it’s difficult to judge the show on just one outing. As history has shown, hosting the Tonight Show is much more like a long marathon than a quick sprint. It’ll be interesting to see if O’Brien can sustain the ratings dominance of his predecessor.

What do you think? Did you watch and will you tune in again? Is O’Brien right for the job?

In case you missed it, here’s another chance…

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Aunt B January 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Conan O’Brien is different from other late night hosts. he has his own style and that is what is so great about him. I don’t care where he ends up as long as I can still see him on TV every night.

NBC has no right to treat Leno or Conan the way they are.

The only way Leno could come out of this looking good is if he leaves NBC with Conan if that is what it comes down to.

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calvin January 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

Pres Barrack O’Bama says he is supporting coan and is proud to be a member of team coco he dont like leno or kimmel leave conan where he is

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cara January 15, 2010 at 4:43 am

love conan or hate him no one deserves to be treated like those NBC Dogs are treating him Fu*k NBC

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jeremy January 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm

How can anyone hate on Conan. You peolpe just need to keep watching Matlock and shut it. He the cutting edge of comedy, if you people weren’t ninety you would know that,and FORGET Leno he is a dinosaur. Conan has had his hand in all types of comedies,productions,etc.. ask anyone in showbiz he’s a comedic genius.

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Gav January 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

Conan show is far better then any other he is the greatest host i hope he goes to a better network NBC is a sinking ship give jay the tonight show back so he can sink it in the ratings and get it cancelled like he did the jay leno show

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Tess January 14, 2010 at 8:01 am

Well out of all the talk show’s Conan’s show is the highest rated in australia second is Fallen then Ellen and veiw

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Carl January 14, 2010 at 7:59 am

Man you guys are so pathetic ur just haters conan is the best tonight show host of all time only second to johnny carson leno sucked thats why he was dumped from the jay len show letterman wasn’t good enough to host it kimmel he’s just pathetic

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Susie Arena January 12, 2010 at 8:56 pm

LOVE CONAN!! Only watched Jay when he had good guests – tired of him stealing from Rodney Dangerfield, tired of jokes that are not funny. If they move Conan to put Jay back in his spot, I will never watch again. Would rather watch David Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel than Jay ANY day!! You go, Conan, don’t give in to NBC – go to another network if you have to but don’t let them do this to you!! My vote is for Conan!!

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Traci January 11, 2010 at 6:40 am

I have never been a fan of Conan’s. And this argument from what appears to be a very small following of his that the rest of us just don’t “get” him and we aren’t “cool” enough to understand his comedy is ridiculous. He is just not the talent other late night show hosts are. I’m sorry they are dropping Leno’s new show, though. I liked the fact that on any weekday, I always had something entertaining to tune into for the hour before the news. Obviously, there have not been other shows to tear me away from Leno, so I am not sure what I am going to find to watch in that timeslot now. But I think Leno might be glad to be back in the after-news time slot, although cutting him down to a half hour is a slap in the face for someone who repeatedly made The Tonight Show number one. They should have given Leno back his hour and shorted Conan or even better, replaced Conan altogether. And it will be interesting to see what NBC comes up with to solve the problem of local news affiliates not getting the lead in audience they require.

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