The Wall Street Journal recently did a big story on the progress of Conan O’Brien’s TBS show over the past year, and seeing as the piece is titled “Conan Falls Flat in Season 1,” it’s… uh… not too good. From the story:
The audience for “Conan,” has fallen from about 2.4 million in the show’s first month on air in 2010 to roughly 958,000 people this past July, according to Nielsen Co. data.
Mr. O’Brien trails all major competitors on broadcast and cable during his 11 p.m. time slot. In certain weeks, he’s also fallen behind newer faces such as Chelsea Handler. [Ed. note – (*murders everyone*)]
In July, Mr. O’Brien averaged about 685,000 viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, placing him behind cable competitors such as Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart as well as broadcast rivals Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman and Jay Leno.
The story goes on to say that TBS is still firmly behind Conan, and that they are “doubling down” on the show over the next year, including spending a reported $2 million per episode to purchase reruns of “Big Bang Theory” to run as its lead in, but… yeesh. You can certainly dispute some of those numbers (as the story points out, lots of Conan’s fans watch clips on the show’s website, and that’s not reflected in the ratings), but losing to Chelsea Handler? Chelsea Handler?! This simply will not do, America.
One more note from the story before I think about those last few sentences too much and give myself a brain aneurysm: this is my favorite paragraph of the story.
Television executives say that Mr. O’Brien’s ratings problem lies in part with his niche appeal. His act relies more on extended sketches that venture into absurd territory rather than punch lines ripped from the news or pure political and cultural satire. His biting, self-deprecating style, which often involves bizarre gestures or movements such as his famous “string dance,” tends to resonate more with younger viewers.
I could read the Wall Street Journal try to explain pop culture all day long. It’s like when you confuse a cartoon robot.
After the jump, Louis C.K. on “Conan” last night, because I need a laugh after that story.