WHAT'S NBCU's ZUCKER GONNA DO NOW? David Letterman Tops Conan O'Brien In Last Night's Ratings; Bring Back Leno?
Julia Roberts as a guest finally put Dave over the top in late night Tuesday night in the early Nielsen overnights following Howard Stern Monday night. They bested Conan and his guests of David Duchovny Monday night and Eddie Murphy on Tuesday night. (And Eddie rarely does talk shows anymore so that was considered a guest "get" even if his movies bomb at the box office):
David Letterman 3.4
Conan O'Brien 2.9
David Letterman 3.0
Conan O'Brien 3.1
This follows the plunging of Conan's Tonight Show ratings from a debut high of 7.0 on June 1st, to 5.0 on June 2nd, 4.2 on June 3rd, 3.8 on June 4th, to 3.5 on June 4th. Of course, helping Dave was the fact that, just last week, CBS has every one of the Nielsen Top 10 shows in network primetime in this period known as the summer repeat doldrums. And NBC's primetime schedule is, as usual, tanking. So no help there for Conan. It's the nightmare scenario for GE/NBC Universal that everyone but boss Jeff Zucker thought would happen: the network's cash cow The Tonight Show, once safely No. 1 in the ratings with Jay Leno as host, now can only hope to seesaw in the ratings with Letterman's Late Show.
And that's not even the all the bad news: Advertising Age reported Monday that while "NBC is touting Jay Leno's new primntime program as an innovative, DVR-proof move, buyers say the new talk show will draw fewer viewers than ABC and CBS on any given night, and are balking at paying primetime prices for what they view ads late-night ratings. 'He will guarantee NBC a third-place finish [behind ABC and CBS] in whatever hour he's in,' said Shari Ann Brill, senior VP-director of strategic audience analysis for Aegis gGroup's Carat. 'He will do on par with what he did in late night.' "source