Conan O’Brien on TBS Loses One Third of His Audience

Conan O’Brien returned to television this week after high anticipation; and despite a loyal fan following, about 2.8 million viewers tuned in for his second night, compared to 4.2 million viewers on his debut night, the cable network said, according to Reuters.

Photo by Time, NBC

Critics remain tough on the comedian, referring to last night’s episode (his third show with TBS) as full of more “growing pains,” an Entertainment Weekly blogger writes.

After a nine-month absence since quitting the NBC show The Tonight Show, fans and critics hold their breath, and remain speculative. Talk show host Conan (Coco) O’Brien is in the midst of the beginning of his television comeback with TBS. His NBC nemesis Jay Leno has raked in a consistent 3.6 million viewers so far this season with NBC, and many wonder how O’Brien will measure up with his new gig. Early in 2010, Jay took back his Tonight Show spot, pushing O’Brien to a 12:30 A.M. time slot, which he vehemently denied.

Critics complain of Conan’s exhausted irreverent and smug NBC and TBS jokes that are made with overall bitterness. Adam Markovitz of EW’s Popwatch expressed his displeasure with the ‘ole TBS and Jay Leno jabs. Last night O’Brien expressed “clever working titles for his show, including Plan B with Conan O’Brien, One Hour to Lopez, S— a Tall Irish Attention Whore Says, and Taller and Gayer Ellen.”

Also on Tuesday’s show, actor Tom Hanks in the guest chair took grief from O’Brien for having popularized the “Coco” nickname. Even the talk show hosts’ young children call him Coco now instead of Daddy. “It enrages me,” O’Brien said.

“Finally,” Hanks responded, “you’ll blame something on someone other than Jay.”

Perhaps after the discomfort, bitterness and nerves settle, Conan will survive and succeed. Keeping in mind, the first episode of any late-nighter is almost always the highest-rated, and Coco has that young 20 to 30-something crowd on his side, which has always been where the money is at.

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