Younger Viewers Flocking to Conan as Tumultuous Year Ends

Conan O'Brien of 'Conan' (TBS)

Conan O'Brien of 'Conan' (TBS)

Conan O’Brien may not be the king of late-night, but he’s a champ when it comes to drawing younger viewers to TBS.

As Conan’s year of living tumultuously comes to a close, he’s leading all other late-night personalities in one of the more important younger demographic groups – viewers aged 18-34.

Citing data provided by TBS, Entertainment Weekly reports that “Conan” – airing weeknights at 11/10c on TBS – averaged 530,000 viewers per evening the week before Christmas (Conan’s sixth week on the air) in the 18-34 group, enough to beat the other late-night shows.

Of course, every network tries to emphasize the demographic groups in which they can claim victory. In that regard, TBS is no different from NBC, for example, which stresses another, wider demographic category – 18-49s – in its weekly press releases about ratings for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (both of which Conan formerly hosted).

Among 18-49s, NBC leads the late-night pack, or so the network says. In its most recent communiqué – covering the week of Dec. 13-17 – NBC said Leno attracted 1.4 million 18-49s and Fallon drew 861,000 that week. NBC didn’t break out any numbers for 18-34s, however.

And to keep it all in perspective, Conan’s TBS show averaged 1.3 million viewers overall in the week leading up to Christmas, while Leno is averaging 3.9 million viewers overall for the season since September (with “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS averaging 3.6 million) and Fallon is averaging 1.7 million (vs. 1.8 million for “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” on CBS).

For the 47-year-old Conan O’Brien, his strength among younger viewers bodes well for the future, if the numbers continue to trend upward. And, to his credit, he’s gaining on rivals Fallon and Ferguson in the overall ratings race (after all, Conan started with nothing a little more than six weeks ago and now gets nearly a million and a half viewers a night). But it remains to be seen if he’ll ever grow big enough on TBS to rival the audiences for “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show.”

See Conan’s Holiday Set Decorations:

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Still, things are looking up for Conan nearly a year after he fell so dramatically from grace on NBC. We wish him a very happy new year in 2011.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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