Friday, October 16, 2009

Late Night Ratings: David Letterman has another "atypical week"

Whoever is writing the ratings press releases for NBC is having an increasingly tough time spinning the news. David Letterman is now winning the 18-49s -- but at least Conan still has the 18-34s! Letterman's high viewership numbers are clearly the result of an atypical week for the "Late Show" host!

This week, the publicist referred to Oct. 5-9 as "an atypical week that featured heightened interest created by recent revelations on CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman.'" Sept. 21-25 was also "an atypical week that featured guest appearances by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton" (not to mention Conan's head injury). Sept. 7-11 was -- wait for it! -- "an atypical week... that included a Labor Day rebroadcast special and a late start on Wednesday due to the Presidential Congressional address."

Five weeks in a row, three of them "atypical." Next week may be considered "atypical" as well, since both shows will be in reruns and viewers might opt to watch "Late Show" to try and parse Dave's monologues and interactions with female guests to see if they can pick up any hints of the troubles to come.

Here are the total viewership numbers for Oct. 5-9:
CBS “Late Show,” 4.4 million viewers
ABC “Nightline,” 3.8 million viewers
NBC “Tonight,” 2.4 million viewers
Comedy Central “The Daily Show,” 1.5 million/“The Colbert Report,” 1.1 million viewers*
ABC “Kimmel,” 1.7 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 2.0 million viewers
NBC “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” 1.4 million viewers
NBC “Last Call,” 0.8 million viewers

*TDS/TCR ratings are only for the shows' initial airings, at 11 and 11:30 PM.

In case you want to compare and contrast, here are the numbers for a comparable week a year ago (Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2008):

NBC “Tonight (with Jay Leno),” 4.7 million viewers
CBS “Late Show,” 3.6 million viewers
ABC “Nightline,” 3.6 million viewers
ABC “Kimmel,” 1.7 million viewers
NBC “Late Night (with Conan O'Brien),” 1.9 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 1.8 million viewers

Jay Leno actually had a higher rating among the 18-49s than Conan -- his season-to-date rating in that demographic was 1.3/5, vs. 1.0/4 for the O'Brien-hosted "Tonight Show."