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David Letterman notches first weekly ratings win over 'Tonight Show' since 2005

The late-night ratings race continues to evolve, with CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" notching its first total-viewer victory over NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." Letterman had not logged a weekly victory over "The Tonight Show" since 2005.

For the week ending Friday, Letterman drew an average of 3.5 million total viewers, compared wih 3.3 million for O'Brien, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. O'Brien took over this month for Jay Leno, who routinely pulled in more than 5 million viewers.

The good news for NBC is that O'Brien has maintained a strong lead over Letterman in the advertiser-friendly demographic of adults aged 18 to 49, and "The Tonight Show" is doing particularly well among adults aged 18 to 34. For the week, O'Brien averaged a 1.3 rating/6 share in 18-49, far outpacing Letterman's 0.8 rating/3 share.

However, O'Brien's ratings in both total viewers and among young adults have been slipping since his June 1 premiere. In his heavily promoted inaugural week, "The Tonight Show" averaged a 2.3 rating/10 share. His 18 to 49 average has now drifted down to about where it was when Leno was hosting.

-- Scott Collins

Comments () | Archives (10)

All NBC did was move O'Brien's show from 12:35 to 11:35 and physically move him into a new studio in Burbank. There's nothing new here, it's not the "Tonight" show, it's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" at an earlier time.

Conan's show is all about Conan. I miss Jay. Jay is a man of the people.

Way to go, Dave!!!
You can do it!!! We love you.

Conan O'Brien? More like Conan Lo' Ratings. I am in all favor of having Jay re-host the Tonight Show again.

I think that he has been doing a great job. We all have different types of humor, and those who enjoyed Leno's humor may not approve of O'Brien's etc. I for one never laughed at Leno's jokes nor found him humorous. It is all just a difference of opinion. If O'Brien were to change who he was as an entertainer just to simply fit the "Tonight Show" mold it would be a disastrous and obvious cover-up to who he truly is. Now THAT would be a shame.

NBC has wisely kept Leno under contract. One scenario already being bandied about is returning Leno to The Tonight Show if his 10 PM show fails, which advertisers believe will happen. Conan has lost one million of Jay's viewers in a mere three weeks - NBC will be all too happy to cut him loose.

I love Conan. He's different from Jay, Johnny, and Dave so people should stop dreaming of a Tonight Show circa Jay and Johnny.

Am just glad that Jay's empire of unfunny has ended. Good luck on primetime! Yáll know how NBC rakes in the ratings during their primetime slot. LOL

So old people like Jay and young people prefer Conan. Is anyone that surprised?

With Jay gone it's now Steven Colbert's time. Go Colbert Nation! Still miss Jay - especially Headlines and Jay-walkers.

Pollsters found Conan appeals to a stupider demographic then Jay so even with the viewership decline they can expect ad revenues to stay the same for those dumb commercials during the show.


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