Friday, May 29, 2009

Late Night Ratings: Gains for Craig, decisive victory for Jay

It's time once again to dive into the late night TV ratings race, with numbers courtesy of CBS and NBC (who, needless to say, each put their own rose-colored spin on things).

CBS is crowing about Craig Ferguson's gains in this year's May sweeps compared to 2008, when, of course, he was competing against Conan O'Brien instead of Jimmy Fallon: "In the May 2009 sweep, LATE LATE SHOW was up +8% in both households (1.4/05 compared to 1.3/05) and viewers (1.84m from 1.71m), +25% in adults 18-34 (0.5/03 from 0.4/02) and even in both adults 25-54 (0.7/04) and adults 18-49 (0.6/04) compared to last May." What that means in a direct comparison: during the just-ended sweeps period, Fallon was watched by 60,000 more viewers than Ferguson, while in May 2008, O'Brien had 260,000 more viewers than everyone's favorite Scot.

Let's turn now to the week of May 18-22, a period in which, let's admit, the Leno/O'Brien transition was getting approximately as much publicity as the last time a new Pope was elected: "For the week of May 18-22, Jay's average 1.860 million adults 18-49 topped the 1.151 million of Letterman; in total viewers, Jay's audience of 5.122 million persons beat Letterman's 3.241 million; and in adults 18-34, Jay's 735,000 out-scored Letterman's 419,000." (See our last ratings post if you want to compare those numbers to the week of May 11-15.)

At 12:35 AM, "Jimmy Fallon's 1.032 million adults 18-49 for the week out-delivered Ferguson's 680,000; in total viewers, Jimmy's 2.034 million beat Ferguson's 1.716 million; and in adults 18-34, Jimmy's 460,000 topped Ferguson's 277,000." That's an increase from last week, but not terribly surprising considering the strong lead-in from Leno's last late-night hurrah.

Here are the May 2009 sweep averages, again courtesy of NBC:

11:35 p.m. ET
NBC "Tonight," 5.0 million viewers
CBS "Late Show," 3.6 million viewers
ABC "Nightline," 3.8 million viewers

12:05 a.m. ET
ABC "Kimmel," 1.7 million viewers

12:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," 1.9 million viewers
CBS "Late Late Show," 1.9 million viewers

1:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Last Call," 1.1 million viewers

And a few cable numbers from the week of May 18-22:

Comedy Central, 11 p.m. ET, "The Daily Show," 1.5 million
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET, "The Colbert Report," 1.0 million

Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET, 1.7 million
Adult Swim, 12:30-1:30 a.m. ET, 1.0 million

With the Comedy Central bloc, we always feel compelled to throw in the caveat that each of those shows are repeated numerous times outside of their 11-midnight time period; Talk Show News knows plenty of people tune in for the morning or evening reruns, so total viewership of each episode is higher than the numbers above imply.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Will Jay's out of left field "surprise" tonight involve Mr. L? We shall see!

  2. Judd said...

    How the hell is Fallon beating Ferguson? It can't just be because it's in HD. Putting Fallon in HD just makes the fail crystal clear.

  3. Anonymous said...

    sounds like alot of ppl let the sleep function dictate whos show stays on.

    Fallon is blatenly not funny. Letterman is slacking, i made the switch to conan.

    Furgerson is a funny sob. Anyone who is watching fallon has the tc auto-off on timer and is sleeping to not turn off that Adam Sandler wannabe. Fallon is not funny and never was, his whole persona is stolen from Waynes World.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Conan is deffinetly funnier than Letterman and Craig is an infinit amount better than fallon although have to admit fallon probably has better guests but i would still pick Craig unless someone actually funny is guesting on Fallon.

  5. Anonymous said...

    iFerguson's show feels smoother than Fallon's, and depending on viewers' opinions of Fallon, this could be positive or negative. The enjoyment in watching Fallon comes from whether or not one is routing for him. More times than not, those routing against him are probably best served, with his off-setting awkwardness in both the monologue and conversation with guests. Ferguson, on the other hand, is much more comfortable behind the camera, providing the viewers with enough of a contrast to relieve those who are tired of Fallon's flops and, yet, remind others why Fallon's blunders are both tolerable and addictive to watch. I prefer the seasoned Scot, but maybe that's just because I'm still young enough to have so much awkwardness in my everyday life that I don't need to see any more of it before I go to bed.

  6. Anonymous said...

    I've given up on all of the late night shows EXCEPT for Craig. He's the absolute best.. can't wait for Dave to retire and hand over the show to Craig. Then you'll see CBS kick NBC's butt to the curb.