This article is from the Conan O'Brien FAQ, by Joseph Gebis firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
It appears that Tom and Conan are attracting different audiences,
since Conan's ratings have not gone down since "Late, Late Show" has come
out. Conan is stronger with youthful demographics, while Snyder has
picked up an older audience. The relations between the two remain very
cordial, and each have appeared on the other's show and guests regularly
appear on both shows. There is definitely no "late night war" on this front.
Up until recently, Conan was also competing against UPN's "Jon
Stewart Show" and Disney's "Stephanie Miller Show." However, both the
Stewart show and the Miller show were cancelled.
There is something new on the horizon. Letterman's production
company, Worldwide Pants, has signed Jon Stewart to develop a project for
CBS late night. Stewart had also been in negotiations with NBC to be a
permanent guest host for movie-making Greg Kinnear of "Later," and was a
guest host for a few shows. The new project is slated to run at 1:35,
opposite of "Later." Letterman has privately expressed some displeasure
at Snyder's performance, and the likelihood is that Stewart is being
preened to take over the 12:35 time slot opposite Conan. This apparently
is also the quiet end of "Lauren Hutton And..", the current CBS 1:35
Ok, to the numbers:
- Conan is averaging around a 2.5 weekly, with an average 12 per cent
share. Snyder is averaging around a 1.8 weekly, with a 9 per cent share.
- On Thursdays, Conan has been edging up to around or over a 3.0.
- Conan has an average 1.4 in key demographics (young adults), and
Snyder has a 0.7.
- Conan is holding 51% of his lead-in audience, and Tom is holding 41%.
- For some perspective, "Late Night With David Letterman" was
averaging a 2.7 at the end of its run on NBC. Considering the dropoff
Leno took after Carson left, and all the competition Conan is facing, it
makes his ratings even more impressive.
In order to clear up some commonly asked questions, here is a brief
look at what some ratings terms mean. A "ratings point" is a value set
by the Neilsen company. It is slightly less than 1 million viewers, and
is an estimation of the total number of viewers who watched a program. A
"share" is the percentage of total tv viewers at the time who are
watching the show. A "20% share" is different at 8 PM then it is at
11 PM. "Clearance" reflects the number of affiliates who carry the show
at its proper time. The higher the number, the better the clearance.
"Lead-in" is the rating statistics of the show prior to the rated show.
There are often references to the percentage of the lead-in audience that
"Conan O'Brien is going to get better and better."
-- Tom Snyder