Conan’s First Night Whips Rivals in Viewership

** ADDS PHOTOGRAPHER CREDIT ** In this photo ... AP

TBS says Conan O’Brien was welcomed back to television by more than 4.1 million viewers.

The former host of “The Tonight Show,” who left NBC eight months ago, returned to late night Monday with a new talk show, “Conan,” which premiered on basic-cable network TBS.

In the 11 p.m. Eastern hour, O’Brien’s opening night throttled his direct rivals on Comedy Central. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” was seen by 1.3 million viewers, followed by “The Colbert Report” with 1 million.

Conan even beat Jay Leno, the host who reclaimed the “Tonight Show” chair from him. Starting at 11:35 p.m. Eastern, “Tonight” attracted 3.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Co. figures released on Tuesday.

No word yet on how he did against David Letterman.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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