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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 }

Jen December 1, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Conan Rocks! The funniest late night host. If you dont get his humour, then you are BLAH!!! He is unique and creative (along with his writers). It is unfortunate that he had to tone himself down for the tonight show, but I still faithfully record and watch his show. Conan Live On, and Keep being yourself!


EL November 19, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Conan does suck. It doesn’t matter what time slot you stick him in. Way too spastic for my taste. Like he loads up on 5 Hour Energy drinks. It’s L.A. He doesn’t fit the culture. His delivery should be smoother. And it would help if his style of comedy wasn’t an acquired taste.


Benda November 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I love CoCo – he is the smartest and funniest thing on TV


Brenda October 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm

conin obrian is repulisive, No no one should have to work THAT hard to have to be FUNNY He IS NOT FUNNY . Any one that enjoys his show is sick!! I DO NOT watch NBC for that hour any more.what ever else is on is what I WATCH.


Suzy October 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Jay should have given the job to Jimmy Kimmel. Conan Sucks!!! I will never watch again.


Brenda October 6, 2009 at 11:30 am

Conan is REPULSIVE! No one should have to work that hard to TRY to be funny. He uses too many stupid jestures to try to be funny. I did not watch the show he was on and will not watch the New Tonight Show. I used to look forward to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. What a terrible CHANGE!


Jesus September 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Man, there are a lot of haters out there. I love Conan. I’m 34 seen Johnny and Jay, but I love Conan. It seems people find change hard, as for me, ROCK ON CONAN.


both of us September 25, 2009 at 10:26 pm

never watched the tonight show again since Conan took over! can’t watch someone try to be funny!


both of us September 25, 2009 at 10:23 pm

never watched the tonight show again since Conan took over!


dorothy bryant September 19, 2009 at 9:00 am

jay leno show or csi
what do they have working at nbc nitwits
and as for canan he STINKS


gcdubu September 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

All right!!!! Jay is back on NBC! I even rather like the earlier time slot. Maybe, just maybe, NBC’s brass will get the picture and get that idiot O’brien OFF the network. Jay’s ratings ROCKED on opening night. I believe even after he settles into his niche audience, he will do better that Conan is doing late night.


Do any of you have a life? September 14, 2009 at 11:41 pm

So I see the AARP crowd continues to bash Conan and the tonight show. If it bothers you that much, turn it off and wash your dentures, peruse reader’s digest, do some word search puzzles or something else the elderly love to do.

Change scares you, we get it.


Chaz January 14, 2010 at 8:14 am

Testify conan rocks and jay is dry and dull couldn’t stand the old tonight show coco rocks


Lena September 8, 2009 at 7:42 pm

What a shame that NBC did not see it coming. I tried to watch Conan several times, but it was too painful. You know the old adage, if it works, leave it alone. Well I guess NBC did not get it and now the entire tonight show is in shambles. I just hope that Leno can revive the mess that NBC created.


Ralph Clark August 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Conan O’Brien lacks in talent for the Tongiht Show. Jimmy Fallon is more talented and would do a much better job. Andy, Conan’s sidekick is a joke. Why NBC gave O’Brien this job when Jay Leno was leading in the ratings on a constant basis I’ll never know.


Sally August 10, 2009 at 7:59 am

When Conan enters the room, I can’t change the channel fast enough! I find him so obnoxiously silly and NOT the least bit humorous.


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