Ratings Show Conan Can Win South Florida

Even a White House trying to stave off a Great Depression and a nuclear war in the Middle East has found time to talk about whether Conan will sink or swim as the new host of The Tonight Show. So we may as well tackle this issue on Juice with a South Florida angle.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale is the 16th biggest media market in the nation, and after a glance at the local ratings, it seems O'Brien just might give NBC executives a chance to score more viewers here.

O'Brien's Tonight Show predecessor Jay Leno won the late night ratings war in South Florida, as he did in the rest of the U.S., but not by nearly as wide a margin. In the ratings period that spanned late January and most of February, Leno was scoring a 3.5 rating in the U.S. but only a 2.4 in South Florida.

In that same period, which included the final episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien on February 20, O'Brien scored a 1.3 rating nationwide in a time slot one hour later. But he scored a 1.6 in South Florida. The other late night shows rated at or below their national averages. Conclusion: South Florida TV viewers are in play for O'Brien.

But how does he match up against his new time slot rival, David Letterman? Pretty well, it seems. Letterman's ratings are terrible in this region -- between a point and a half-point below his national ratings averages.

So factor in a better time slot, the higher profile celebrities that come with it, the relatively good ratings O'Brien had for his old show, plus the relatively poor ratings that Letterman's posted here, and the red-head has an excellent shot. The early returns are encouraging: In his first week at the Tonight Show, O'Brien has beat Letterman in this market by a full point.

A big thank-you to marketing staff of WTVJ NBC-6, who not only furnished me these ratings but (in the case of the kind and patient Betty Frazier) taught this blogger how to read a spreadsheet.

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