Thursday, October 1, 2009

Late Night Ratings: "Late Show" finally triumphs among 18-49s

It seemed pointless to continue these Late Night Ratings posts, as the weekly releases had fallen into a predictable pattern -- CBS crowing, "David Letterman has way more viewers than Conan!" and NBC countering, "But Dave's audience is OLD! The coveted™ 18-49 demographic belongs to O'Brien!" However, CBS announced today that "Late Show" "topped 'The Tonight Show' in viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 for the first time since 2005 and tied in adults 18-34."

"Late Show" "beat 'The Tonight Show' on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and tied for first on Tuesday among adults 18-49," says CBS.

NBC's spin: it was "
an atypical week," thanks to Dave's sit-downs with President Obama and former President Clinton, as well as Conan's head injury, which brought on an unscheduled rerun on Friday. Plus, "The median age of Conan's audience last week was 46.9, more than eight years younger than 'Nightline's' 55.8 and more than nine years younger than Letterman's 56.6."

Still, Dave's weekly average viewership was 5 million, compared with Conan's 2.4 million. ("Nightline" also did well, with 4.2 million viewers.) No one at NBC can be too happy about that.

The New York Times' Bill Carter adds a bit of analysis: "Mr. O’Brien posted the lowest-rated week for 'Tonight' since Mr. Letterman joined CBS in 1993." He also notes that "Mr. Leno had 4.73 million viewers last year." Jay even did better in the younger demos: "Tonight" "lost 23 per cent in the 18-49 group and 31 per cent in the 25-54 group from last year." Ouch.