Ratings for Conan O’Brien’s "Tonight Show" climbed yet again Thursday as viewers remained riveted to the post-primetime drama unfolding in real-time.
The Team Coco mojo translated into a 1.9 ratings among adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s 25 major metered markets– about double the show’s usual average. "Tonight" was also up for the third consecutive night, doing better than its 1.8 from Wednesday and a 1.7 on Tuesday (the day of O’Brien’s declaration of independence letter).
And despite a big push from the still-strong (albeit diminished) CBS Thursday dramas, "Late Show with David Letterman" remained well behind "Tonight," averaging a 1.1 in the metered market demo ratings. Still, Dave’s doing fine — he was also up a tick from Wednesday, with higher than normal numbers.
In primetime, "The Jay Leno Show" turned in its usual so-so numbers, averaging around a 1.4 rating. A more accurate read on Leno will be released later this morning via Nielsen’s fast nationals.
Not surprisingly, the strong numbers for "Tonight" this week have increased the second-guessing inside NBC over top management’s decision to dump Conan for Jay Leno.
There are rumblings that some at the network are wondering whether the current crisis might be best settled by one final flip-flop: Letting Conan keep "Tonight" while Leno walks.
Such a scenario was described as "highly unlikely" by one insider based at NBC — and that was before Jeff Zucker filed a scud missile attack on the S.S. Coco via damning remarks from buddy Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC U Sports.
Nonetheless, "You can’t tell anymore with these guys," the source said.
While there’s been talk of a possible settlement as early as Friday, Ebersol’s vitriol could throw a monkey wrench into the discussions. It’ll also be interesting to see the mainstream media’s response to his remarks– and whether they end up backfiring on Team Peacock, or end up resulting in more "Conan’s too cool for 11:35" stories.