O'BRIEN BRINGS LATE NIGHT TO TONIGHT
Conan O'Brien described the uphill battle he faces as the fifth host of the Tonight show with the very first line of his monologue Monday night: "Well, I've timed this moment perfectly. I'm on a last place network, I moved to a state that's bankrupt, and tonight's show is sponsored by General Motors." He also faces mounting competition from ABC's Nightline, which see-saws with CBS's Late Show With David Letterman, for second place in the late-night competition -- and usually wins these days -- and Letterman himself, who opened his show Monday night by remarking, "I'm Dave Letterman. I'm still here. I knocked off another competitor." Reviews for the new Tonight were largely favorable, although most critics commented that O'Brien appeared nervous on stage. Robert Bianco in USA Today noted that while the show appeared "more richly produced" than his previous one, "if you like what he does -- and I do -- odds are you'll be happy for the chance to see him do it an hour earlier. ... All in all," he concluded, "O'Brien got his Tonight off to a decent start." In the New York Daily News, TV critic David Hinckley remarked, "Conan made it subtly clear that the new kid in town will be a little naughtier and that for better or worse Tonight is now his ride." On the other hand, critic Linda Stasi wrote in the New York Post that much of O'Brien's material was "painfully unfunny." Watching O'Brien's interview with Will Ferrell, whose comedy, she said, "turned excruciating," she began feeling "Leno deprivation." Still, she concluded, "Conan fans won't be disappointed."
HULU MAKES GAINS
Hulu.com, the video site owned jointly by NBC, Fox, Disney and other media entities, continued to make solid gains in viewership in March, according to comScore Video Matrix. While Google's YouTube ranked as the top U.S. video site, with 5.7 billion videos viewed representing 40.9 percent of the online video market, Hulu emerged for the first time among the top three with 380 million videos viewed, putting it in third place for the first time, behind Fox Interactive Media with 437 million videos viewed. The study found that 77.8 percent of Internet users watched online video during the month, averaging about 5.5 hours for the month. The length of an average online video was 3.4 minutes.
I'M A CELEBRITY SCORES FOR NBC
NBC, which picked up I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!, the reality show that aired on ABC in 2003, posted solid numbers with a two-hour season debut on Monday. Celebrity, which was slammed by most critics, averaged 6.35 million overall viewers for second place, but more importantly it came in first among viewers 18-49, advertisers' favorite demographic group. The program edged out a two-hour edition of ABC's The Bachelorette, which averaged 6.34 million viewers but came in third among younger viewers.
MTV MOVIE AWARDS TAKES BIG BITE OUT OF RATINGS
Reflecting the power of teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson to draw an audience, the MTV Movie Awards, which showered Pattinson and his movie Twilight with trophies on Sunday, drew 5.3 million viewers -- 78 percent greater than last year's telecast. The awards show, which also featured a preview of the Twilight sequel New Moon, produced the awards ceremony's best ratings since 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research. Stealing the show from Pattinson, however, was comedian Sasha Baron Cohen, who, as his alter-ego Bruno, flew into the auditorium on a wire and landed on rap singer Eminem. (One of the writers of the awards show, Scott Aukerman, disclosed on his blog Monday that the incident was staged and was included in the dress rehearsal.)
SINGING SENSATION BOYLE HOSPITALIZED
Susan Boyle's hospitalization following her defeat by a dance group on Britain's Got Talent was attributed to "exhaustion" by producers of the show Monday. TalkbackThames issued a statement saying that the 48-year-old singer had decided to "take a few days [off] for rest and recovery" at a London clinic. The London Sun said that she appeared delirious when she arrived there. It quoted a source as saying, "It was incredibly distressing. She was talking to herself, then went quiet." Meanwhile, published reports said that the season finale of Britain's Got Talent averaged 15 million viewers, peaking at 19.2 million. It was the most-watched show in the U.K. since 18.2 million tuned in to the Euro 2004 soccer tournament. (Videos of Boyle's final performance on BGT and the winning act by dance group Diversity have so far been viewed worldwide nearly 30 million times on YouTube.)
COMCAST SETTING UP "RAPID RESPONSE" TEAMS FOR SWITCHOVER
With just ten days remaining before the June 12 mandatory switch to digital broadcasting, Comcast has created what it calls a "rapid response team" that will install its cable service in new customers' homes in New England on the same day the company receives an order. Published reports have indicated that many people who have purchased converter boxes to receive digital TV over the air may discover that the strength of the signal is inadequate in their locations and may therefore be compelled to sign up for cable TV. Comcast is also offering basic cable service for a year to new customers at a price of $10 per month.
RATHER INTERVIEWS GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEE
Although he lost more of his already whittled-down audience on Sunday when Time Warner Cable dropped Mark Cuban's HDNet, Dan Rather is likely to gain considerable attention tonight (Tuesday) when he airs the first TV interview with a former Guantánamo Bay detainee on the network. In the interview, Lakhdar Boumediene, who spent nearly seven years in the detention camp in Cuba until he was released to France two weeks ago, alleges that he was tortured repeatedly by U.S. soldiers, intelligence officers and military doctors. "Nothing change in Guantánamo, nothing," he says. "The same rules. They torture me in the Obama time more than Bush." HDNet said it plans to air excerpts of the interview with Boumediene tonight and the full interview next week.