What was Conan O'Brien's final night hosting The Tonight Show like? For NBC, totally cock-rockingly awesome. The networked murked it in the ratings game. Meanwhile, Conan and Friends got positively fitshaced, while Hulu conspired against the late-night funnyman's jokes.
In preliminary national late-night ratings, Mr. O'Brien scored a booming 7 household rating, which was almost triple the number he had been averaging for months in that measure. More impressive was the number for 18-to-49-year-old viewers - the gold standard for NBC because advertisers seek to reach that audience. There, in overnight numbers from the country's 25 largest cities, Mr. O'Brien hit an extraordinary rating, a 4.8. Not only would that be by far the biggest rating in that age group for any kind of show at any time Friday night (if it holds up as a national rating and it will probably decrease only slightly), it is also a better number than almost every prime-time show that has appeared on NBC this television season.
So, to an extent, their restructuring absolutely worked: by firing Conan and putting Jay Leno back in his old time slot, they made the ratings go up really high! But if you're NBC's ratings, what goes up...must come down. Like a crack high. By which I mean: really, really hard, to the point where you either want to kill yourself or take a bath in methadone. If you're jokes about NBC, however, you never "go up" on some places in the first place. One of Conan's running gags this week has been buying expensive things and turning them into skits! Like a million dollar car, dressed as a mouse, with a theme song: the master for the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." Which, last night, he admitted was fake. So why hasn't Hulu posted some of them? Via Slate:
...One segment is gone; it's been replaced by a fade-out and a commercial break. (Otherwise you'd be able to find it about 18:30 in.) The question is why. It was almost certainly too expensive to buy the Web rights to "Satisfaction." Conan alluded to it in his monologue, and NBC likely wouldn't approve the expense to put it on the Internet once they actually saw what the song was being used for. So, is this NBC being cheap, or being a censor?
In case you can't see the irony in this, we have
1. The head writer of NBC's Saturday Night Live
2. Using our coverage of his network, NBC, and their various acts of programming dumbfuckery, instead of his own network's streaming media platforms, probably with the intent of
3. Making fun of them on the next episode of Saturday Night Live.
Finally, there was an after-party, and supposedly—naturally—it was awesome. Reports the LA Times:
Jameson Irish whiskey and ginger ale flowed for hours on L.A.'s Universal City set, where O'Brien toasted loud and long with cohorts Andy Richter, musical director Max Weinberg and band LaBamba, as well as over 200 crew wearing "Team Conan" and "I'm with Coco" shirts.
Another wonderful irony: the real hangover won't belong to the cast and crew of Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. For NBC, if only. Once they wake up post-coital next to the pooch of their ratings situation, with the head-pounding realization that they've spent the last month completely fucking it by discharging a long-term ratings investment who's going to start taking numbers away from them by the boatload the second his next show goes on the air, it'll probably start to hurt a little. The dry-heaving won't really hit home until NBC/Universal shareholders start asking for heads, if they haven't already started doing so today. Good times, all around.
[Note: I originally noted that Seth Meyers would be making fun of NBC SNL this weekend. Turns out, per our commenters, it's a rerun. Oh well. Maybe he'll save something good for the next new episode.]