Oh, yes, this, just after his first show:
And the ratings can certainly be counted on to come back down to earth, if not tonight, or the next night, then soon. But even then will Conan still beat, or at least stay on par with Dave and Jay? Maybe, but it’ll be tough. And here’s why: Jon Stewart. Much was made over the fact that last week, for the first time in decades, a show other than The Tonight Show or The Late Show led late night in the 18-49 demo. That The Daily Show airs 30 minutes before those shows didn’t seem to matter greatly to many of the people who thought that Jon Stewart’s ratings victory meant a monumental shift in late night. We don’t quite buy into that hyperbole, especially since those shows are not direct competitors. But The Daily Show and Conan are, not just for the time slot but for the same viewers. What has elevated The Daily Show has been its loyal following of young, active, internet-addicted viewers. The very same slice of the population that helped turn Team Coco into a phenomenon. Conan won the first round last night, but should one bet that he’ll hold onto those viewers? We wouldn’t.
And what did we learn today? That The Daily Show beat Conan in January both in terms of total viewers and in the 18-49 demo. Hate to say we told you so but…oh, wait, no, we’re totally happy to say we told you so. We told you so!
Which doesn’t mean that Conan’s not doing a great job, or that we were rooting for him to fail. It just means that, like we argued regarding Barack Obama, initial reactions can be deceptive, and, more importantly, rabid fan bases, specifically of the internet variety, have a way of quickly quieting down.