Remember all the drama around Conan O’Brien losing the Tonight Show? The 60 Minutes interview, the live shows, the Team Coco rallies, the buzzy social media campaign, the Conan Blimp? By the time the clock hit 11 pm on November 8th, it was a pretty big deal — a veritable Television Event. And the ratings backed that up — despite his much joked-about exile to basic cable, the debut of Conan pulled an impressive 4.16 million viewers.
Or it was impressive — until, that is, the numbers rolled in for Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Making no bones about basic cable — heck, she was just happy to be there, huntin’ and fishin’ and doin’ all that great outdoorsy stuff — and with a much quieter ramp-up, SPAlaska nonetheless came in with 4.96 million viewers for the debut episode — breaking TLC’s records to become the most-watched series launch in the channel’s history. The Mama Grizzly does not mess around.
What does that tell us about Sarah Palin and Conan? Well number one, maybe Conan should have had her on the Tonight Show. Number two, it’s time for people to stop bellyaching about basic cable — it’s quite clear the numbers can be there, given the right material. And number three, it’s clear that these are two shows tha have little to do with each other — while Conan’s audience hit the jackpot amongst younger viewers, Palin’s struck gold with the olds. Can you imagine if they ran on a ticket?
Picture of Sarah Palin via the AP via the Telegraph; pic of Conan via his Twitter.
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