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Conan O'Brien's career flop: By the numbers
Despite a promising start last year, Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show has steadily lost viewers — and TBS is investing heavily to stop the slide
Conan O'Brien may be earning big bucks as host of his late night TBS talker, but the show's viewership has taken a 60 percent dive since its 2010 debut.
Conan O'Brien may be earning big bucks as host of his late night TBS talker, but the show's viewership has taken a 60 percent dive since its 2010 debut.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
T

BS's great red hope is tanking. A new Wall Street Journal report on the network's late-night talk show, Conan, details just how big an investment its hiring of host Conan O'Brien has been — and just how poorly that investment has paid off this past year. And TBS's "Conan O'Brien experiment" is about to get even more expensive. Here's a statistical breakdown of this 11 pm flop:

$12 million
Amount per year O'Brien earns as part of his deal with TBS. His hiring was hailed as the "next land of opportunity" by network executives, says Lauren A.E. Schuker at The Wall Street Journal

60
Percent by which viewership of Conan has fallen since its fall 2010 debut

2.4 million
Average viewership of Conan during its first month on air

958,000
Average viewership of Conan in July. That puts O'Brien behind all other late-night hosts in the 11 o'clock hour, including E!'s Chelsea Handler, says Georg Szalai at The Hollywood Reporter

11
Percent by which TBS viewership among 18 to 49-year-olds, the key television demographic, has slid over the past year — despite the hiring of young-skewing O'Brien

685,000
Average viewership of Conan in July among 18 to 49-year-olds, placing O'Brien behind Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, and traditional older-skewing late-night hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno

2.9 million
Average viewership of The Tonight Show in the last half of 2009 through early 2010, when O'Brien was host

32
Median age of Conan's audience, the youngest in late-night. Advertisers still flock to Conan because "his quirky humor appeals to younger viewers," says Mary Papenfuss at Newser.

$2 million
Price per episode TBS is paying for repeats of The Big Bang Theory, which it will begin airing in the fall as a lead-in to Conan in an attempt to boost ratings. Still, says Jaime Weinman at Maclean's. "You can't build a network brand on reruns of a show going into syndication all over the place."

$260,527
Total domestic gross of O'Brien's high-profile documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, which chronicled the host's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on TV" comedy tour after leaving NBC, according to Box Office Mojo

139
Number of episodes TBS produced of its first late-night talk show, George Lopez's Lopez Tonight, before canceling it earlier this month. James Poniewozik at TIME blames the demise of the show (which aired immediately after Conan) on the decline of O'Brien's ratings.

134
Number of episodes TBS has produced of Conan so far, according to IMDB

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Hollywood Reporter, IMDB, Maclean's, Newser, TIME, Wall Street Journal

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