Conan O’Brien is moving to cable and into the eager arms of TBS. Conan’s new show will air at 11 p.m. placing him in direct competition not only with Leno, Letterman and the late night talk shows, but also with cable heavyweights The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.
The ”I’m With Coco” phenomenon demonstrated the strong allegiance of Conan’s young audience. However, despite professing reverence for Conan, many college-aged viewers still kneel to the altar of Stewart and Colbert which raises the question: is there room for a lanky redhead in the 11 p.m. mindshare of young audiences?
Taking the 12:30 version of his show as representative of the type of program he will bring to cable, we wondered how Conan would compare against The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Using FastTrack Late Night we looked at Program Elements to see how the 12:30 Late Night with Conan O’Brien matches up against The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Late Night scored a 47% for Host while The Daily Show and Colbert earned 66% and 63%, respectively. Late Night earned a 44% for Humor with The Daily Show scoring the highest with 61% and Colbert close at 59%.
Source: FastTrack Late Night, One Year Show Average, Program Elements Rated Excellent
Colbert and Stewart offer a slightly different product incorporating news and politics at the same time garnering impressive humor and host scores. Squaring off against Comedy Central’s late night duo poses a different kind of challenge for Conan than network television presented. Predicting how Conan may fare against Colbert and Stewart requires looking beyond number of viewers and into the source of his appeal. Understanding viewer’s favorite show elements and habits offers greater audience insight that goes further than ratings.