TBS Extends 'Conan' Through April 2014

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The Time Warner network is ready for more of the Conan O'Brien-hosted late-night show, highlighting recent ratings trends.

NEW YORK - TBS said Wednesday it has extended late-night series Conan, hosted by Conan O'Brien, through April 2014.

Since premiering in Nov. 2010, "Conan has been a hit with TBS's core audience of young adults," the Time Warner network said.

While Conan has underperformed in the ratings, TBS highlighted that it recently had its third consecutive month of audience growth. "The success of Conan also extends well beyond the show's TBS telecasts to include widespread DVR, online and mobile viewing, interaction through Twitter, Facebook and TeamCoco.com," the network said.

“We are proud to be in business with Conan O'Brien for the long run,” said Michael Wright, executive vp, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “Night after night, Conan and his team have put together terrific shows that draw a young and fiercely loyal audience. As if that weren't enough, they have also built a dynamic online presence that keeps fans engaged like no other show in late night.”

Said O’Brien: “I am excited to continue my run with TBS because they have been fantastic partners." He also quipped: "This means I’ll be taping episodes of Conan well into the Ron Paul presidency.”

Conan in January was up 27 percent in total viewers compared to Oct. 2011, while adults 18-34 were up 18 percent, and adults 18-49 rose 21 percent, TBS said. In February, the show is displaying additional 12 percent growth among adults 18-34, 11 percent among adults 18-49 and 8 percent among total viewers.

For 2012 to-date, Conan has averaged 1.1 million viewers, with 407,000 adults 18-34 and 702,000 adults 18-49. Nevertheless, Conan is well behind Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. The Daily Show is the top-rated late-night entry on cable, averaging 2.4 million viewers an episode this season and surpassing NBC's Jay Leno and CBS' David Letterman among viewers 18-49. 

And TBS has yet to permanently fill the post-Conan midnight slot previously occupied by George Lopez's Lopez Tonight. That show was cancelled last summer after two seasons; Lopez lost almost half of its viewers when TBS moved it to midnight to make room for Conan.  

Conan premiered in November 2010 after a public split with NBC. The show bowed to 4.1 million viewers and was averaging 2.4 million during its first month. But those numbers began to fall and by last summer, the show was down to just below 1 million viewers. In September, TBS began airing reruns of How I Met Your Mother (which the company paid a hefty $2 million per episode for) a couple nights a week in front of Conan, reasoning that the popular CBS sitcom would give Conan a healthy lead-in. 

Meanwhile, the late night space has seen increased competition as more cable networks stake a claim in the day-part. Andy Cohen's Bravo chat show, Watch What Happens Live expanded from two to five nights a week last January. In March 2011, E! expanded Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately with After Lately. And Comedy Central is actively developing content for the midnight hour after Stephen Colbert

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai