Conan O'BrienWhatever Time Warner's (TWX) TBS cable channel is paying Conan O'Brien probably isn't enough.

It's not just that O'Brien's new talk show Conan, which debuted on Nov. 8, is attracting a huge audience -- more than 4.1 million for its first night -- but they were young as well. The median age was 30, the youngest audience in late-night TV, even beating rivals The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report by a few years. If that trend holds, it would be a huge win for TBS.

Advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach younger viewers because they're so difficult to find. TBS, the No. 1 cable network among viewers 18 to 34, knows this well. According to The New York Times, the channel is charging $30,000 to $40,000 for a 30-second commercial spot on Conan, which is comparable to what NBC and CBS charge for commercials on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the Late Show With David Letterman.

"We expected the Conan audience to be young, but it's even younger than anticipated," says TBS spokeswoman Karen Cassell in an email. "The feedback from our advertisers to Conan's initial audience delivery has been very positive. For the opening two nights, Conan has attracted strong, young demographics with reach that our advertising partners desire for their brand messages."

Taking Pay Cuts


O'Brien has joked that he's getting less money than he did at NBC. Advertising Age's Brian Steinberg even argued that O'Brien went overboard with his jokes about the cable and broadcast networks. But those jibes have a personal side as well: His writers reportedly grumbled about taking pay cuts to move from NBC to TBS, according to the New York Post.

Though O'Brien and his staff may be earning less, TBS probably is spending close to the $60 million Fox was prepared to shell out on a show starring the comedian, according to Mediaweek. "By comparison, the short-lived Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien cost NBC $85 million to $90 million altogether, including the host's estimated $12 million salary," the trade publication says.

Advertisers are willing to bet on O'Brien for now. Among the companies on board with Team Cocoa are AT&T (T), News Corp.'s (NWS) 20th Century Fox and Coca-Cola (KO), the Times says. But don't read too much into their participation. Advertisers are always eager to be in on the launch of a new show, particularly if it's generating lots of buzz. Conan had plenty of that.

Conan's debut topped his rivals including Jay Leno, who pushed him out of his hosting job of the Tonight Show and made him a pop culture martyr. Conan also smoked his cable competition, The Daily Show and Colbert Report, which each attracted about 1 million viewers.

Nonetheless, Stewart needn't lose sleep over O'Brien -- at least not yet. "Despite having direct late-night show competition for the first time, The Daily Show was pretty resilient in total viewers, down a modest 13% from its season-to-date Monday viewer average," according to Deadline Hollywood. "As for Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report, O'Brien actually has a chance to upstage them, at least initially, because of the timing for his launch. The Comedy Central shows thrive in busy political times. With the November elections behind us, there is enough political fatigue to give Conan an opening."

Looks like he's taking advantage of it.

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Ed

O'brien's a bore, not funny, very amaturish, no stage presence. The man never paid his dues, he just walked right and got his own show. O'Brien has to be the luckiest non talent in show business. The pathetic part is he actually thinks he is funny.

November 12 2010 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
catfishandray

It doesn't matter what your useless poll shows as far as how many people you feel are tuning in to watch Conan. He's over! Conan was a no account nobody from the start. The only reason Conan had been around on NBC as long as he was, is because he got his nose broken quite a few times from being so close to the asses of major NBC executives. He's never been a comic nor a comedian of any sorts. Conan is obnoxious to say the least. There is not one thing about him that's funny or worth watching. Conan has no lasting ability. The only reason anyone tuned in to any of his shows was because of the guest. The ratings will continue to fall, and then TBS will see the commercial value isn't there. Then Conan will disappear, for good. This is not my personal opinion, it's a cold, cruel fact.

November 12 2010 at 11:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jgrl360

sorry - young people watch him because older persons with intelligence have to get up for work the next day. Should have kept lopez in that spot - this guy is not funny - if you think he is, I feel sorry for you. Don't think he will last long.

November 12 2010 at 9:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ridemyrod53

I don't think he is that great. Its not want the younger pepole or any one to watch. His rattings will drop. I don't know what he is making . But its to much.He don't even need to be on TV. Did he finish High School? To be supied. I hope he didn't get any collage. He wasted his money if he did.

November 12 2010 at 8:08 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

After Seinfeld left there were no more funny men on TV/

November 12 2010 at 7:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Lord high whiz

I cannot for the life of me understand what this no talent red headed step child is doing on TV. Welcome to the dunb assed future.

November 12 2010 at 7:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
danny

I watched the opening show just to see if he was still the "unfunny" individual and I was not disappointed! He is a (Has Been) and it's hard to believe the younger group of people enjoy this clod. Are these the people that will have a voice for this countries future, if so, God help us!!!!

November 12 2010 at 7:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
snessee

This guy is an idiot

November 12 2010 at 6:54 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Cathie

We find this man so incredibly unfunny and his commercials so annoying and frequent on TBS that we are considering blocking the channel. As it is, we mute his commercials or flip the channel while they are on. We are also not Leno fans either.

November 12 2010 at 5:36 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Appaloosa

Jay Leno DID NOT PUSH Conan out of the Tonight Show. NBC FIRED Conan because he was losing audience share ($$$$$$$). NBC had the lowest ratings of all shows in the time slot. PBS had higher ratings! Bottom line, he is childish and his humor is not funny at all. He is a piss poor host and interviewer. He is crude and immature. If this is what young Americans thirst for, America is worse off than I thought.

November 12 2010 at 2:29 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply