Conan O'Brien's last "Tonight Show" episode got what was almost the highest non-sports program ratings on NBC this season. (Only a "Biggest Loser" premiere did a bit better).
The lure of old quarterback-warrior Brett Favre -- as well as a close, exciting NFL championship game between the Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints -- gave Fox the best numbers for that event since 1982.
Here's a truth about mass media and broadcasting: When viewers see a value, they'll tune in -- sometimes unexpectedly.
Add in the recent NBC affiliates' anger over the whole Leno/O'Brien situation, and you can get the sense TV affiliates still hold a lot of sway in the business.
There's another report that automotive advertisers are back spending nicely on all types of TV platforms -- broadcast networks, cable channels, and TV stations.
So, as much as people are looking down the road, many old ways are still in force. No matter how fast we think we are moving -- with Google, Hulu.com, iPhones, twitter, and social media -- a big part of business still clings, rightly or wrongly, to the past.
While advertisers and media agencies have focused on all things targeted of late, many will still tell you getting mass viewers/users/consumers is a good thing.
Everything is relative. That 4.8 adults 18-49 rating for O'Brien's last show wasn't even close to the show's season average, at around a 1.1 rating. NBC Universal might have caved in to its affiliates, yet it is looking to set up somewhat competing local digital businesses to local stations. And auto advertising revenues still aren't at the level of a few years ago.
Big TV viewer numbers are still a media drug business executives are hooked on. But increasingly this isn't the data that will sway consumers to action.
We all know a slow recovery/withdrawal process from mass media is needed to start many other targeted consumer efforts -- otherwise we get dizzy.
Take care of the present business, while targeting future business, slowly. Ever tried getting off caffeine completely in a day? Take a week -- and maybe have a sip of espresso on the weekends.