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Leno's audience takes expected dip but he still wins time period with ease

September 16, 2009 |  2:05 pm

The problem with a huge opening number is that it makes the drop on Night Two all the more dramatic.

Jay Leno's audience fell by almost 40% in his second night on the air, from 18.4 million to 11.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

A dip in Leno's numbers was to be expected and he still won the hour easily in the key adults 18-49 and 25-54 demographic. His competition was a little tougher Tuesday night as well, since CBS had an original episode of "Big Brother" on opposite him in the 10-11 p.m. hour. ABC also had a Barbara Walters Special about Patrick Swayze on.

As has been said, it is far too early to read too much into Leno's numbers, pro or con. He is still outperforming what NBC had been doing in that hour last season. It will take at least a few months to see how Leno is holding up against stiff competition. Viewers will likely check out new and returning dramas in that hour in the weeks ahead but if those shows don't work, then viewers may return to Leno.

-- Joe Flint