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Conan's battle with NBC boosting his ratings

Conan O'Brien's battle with his network certainly hasn't hurt his ratings.

With his jabs at NBC network executives apparently resonating in a country filled with the unemployed, viewership has soared, The Associated Press reports.

O'Brien's ratings have been rising through the week, which was an extraordinary one in late-night television and saw O'Brien and David Letterman hurling barbed remarks at Jay Leno, and Leno firing back.

"Tonight" ratings Friday were 50 percent higher than they've been this season, and O'Brien beat CBS' Letterman, according to a preliminary Nielsen Co. estimate based on large markets. In the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that NBC relies on to set advertising prices, O'Brien even beat Leno's prime-time show.

Settlement talks continued on a deal that would let O'Brien leave NBC and restore Leno to the 11:35 p.m. time slot he occupied for 17 years through last spring.

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