Dave Goes Old School on Conan

Gimme that crown, whippersnapper: Letterman widens lead over O'Brien.
Gimme that crown, whippersnapper: Letterman widens lead over O'Brien. (Evan Agostini - AP)
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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Cranky Old Guy licked The New King of Late Night last week.

For the first time since 2005, more people watched Dave Letterman on CBS's talker "Late Show" over a whole week than watched NBC's "Tonight Show" -- now hosted by Conan O'Brien.

It was Conan's third week as host of "Tonight" and two weeks after NBC publicly proclaimed him The New King of Late Night.

His kingdom has been shrinking ever since.

In his third week, King Conan clocked "Tonight Show's" smallest audience on record for a week that did not suffer from reruns or preemptions -- 3.3 million viewers. Dave averaged 3.5 million.

One week earlier -- Conan's second as "Tonight Show" host -- he'd attracted nearly 4 million viewers. And more than 6 million people caught Conan's debut week as host of the iconic NBC talk show.

NBC focused instead on Conan's win with various age brackets, including 18-34 and 18-49.

"Conan Wins Week Three in Every Key Rating Demo on Every Night of the Week," NBC said in its ratings headline yesterday. By key, NBC means younger viewers advertisers are most interested in reaching.

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ABC and NBC went virtually all-obit in prime time last night after the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Both networks' news divisions quickly produced one-hour specials on Jackson for their 9 p.m. time slots. Jackson died yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles. He was 50.

At 10 o'clock, both networks aired news division-produced specials on Fawcett, who died yesterday morning at St. John's hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. ABC originally planned to air its special "Farrah Fawcett: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Legacy" tomorrow, but early yesterday decided to move the broadcast up a day after Barbara Walters reported Fawcett was not expected to survive the day.

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