Conan O’Brien’s latenight talker will remain on TBS through November 2015, suggesting the Time Warner-owned network is more comfortable with his program’s performance after adding reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” as a lead-in to his show.
The announcement extends O’Brien’s presence on the basic cable net by about 19 months beyond the April 2014 term of his last contract with TBS. The network’s parent, Time Warner’s Turner unit, was not under any deadline to negotiate new terms with the comedian, according to a person familiar with the situation, but wanted to express its satisfaction with the audience the program brings to the network.
O’Brien is currently in Atlanta to host a series of shows against the backdrop of Turner nets airing some of the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tourney, and thought his presence near its corporate headquarters made for a good time to move ahead with the decision, this person said.
On a traditional basis, overall ratings for “Conan” have been modest compared to those of broadcast rivals, but Turner has been looking at O’Brien’s appeal to younger viewers between the ages of 18 and 34, a demographic that appeals strongly to advertisers.
Using audience numbers that take into account seven days’ worth of viewing, TBS’ “Conan” averages 906,000 viewers overall year to date, according to data provided by Turner, with 591,000 age between 18 to 49. Advertisers are only concerned with ratings that include three days’ of viewership.
When “Conan” first launched in November, 2010, it enjoyed a huge upswell of interest owing to O’Brien’s previous treatment by NBC, which made him the host of “Tonight,” then reinstalled Jay Leno at the show in the wake of ratings performance by both O’Brien at 11:35 p.m. and Leno in a new five-days-a-week talk show NBC started at 10 p.m. His first show scored around 4.2 million viewers on a live-plus-same-day basis, according to Nielsen, nearly 3.3 million of which were between 18 and 49.
Since that time, however, the audience has settled as the controversy died down.
In recent months, Turner has tried to focus attention on the host’s digital popularity, noting that O’Brien’s web site, TeamCoco.com, draws 2 million unique users each month as well as 15 million video views each month on TeamCoco.com and YouTube.