Conan's Ratings Soar Amid Late-Night Change-Up

By Caitlin Millat
|  Sunday, Jan 17, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 AM CDT
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Conan Says Hello to "The Tonight Show"

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Conan O'Brien's ratings are soaring at last -- right as the comedian is poised to exit his late-night slot.

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Conan O'Brien's ratings are soaring  -- right as the comedian is poised to exit his late-night slot.

O'Brien's ratings have begun to surge amid the late-night NBC shuffle that will see Jay Leno's prime-time program move back to its original slot, displacing O'Brien's show, Nielsen ratings indicated Friday.

"The Tonight Show" ratings were 50 percent higher than they've been this season, according to Nielsen estimates, which the Associated Press reported also showed O'Brien beat CBS host David Letterman in the same time slot.

O'Brien also beat NBC rival Jay Leno in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that NBC uses to set ad prices, according to Nielsen.

The two NBC hosts have traded joking jabs at each other and their network during their NBC shows, hurling comedic insults at NBC execs for changing around their late-night lineup.

NBC told O'Brien last week it was moving Leno's failing prime-time program back to its original 11:35 p.m. slot, which O'Brien currently occupies, reportedly giving O'Brien the option to stick around for the 12:05 slot.

O'Brien said in a statement Tuesday he wouldn't do "Tonight" after Leno's 11:35 program, a sentiment he echoed on his Friday night show. "By the time you see this, I'll be halfway to Rio in an NBC traffic helicopter," he joked in his monologue Friday.

The host and NBC are still engaging in settlement talks that would reportedly let O'Brien leave NBC and give Leno his 11:35 time slot back, according to the AP.

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