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September 3, 2015

'Tonight Show' Struggles to Maintain Ratings Lead

by Scott Harris, posted Jul 1st 2010 4:39PM
There's good news and bad news for Jay Leno, once and future host of 'The Tonight Show.' The good news: 'The Tonight Show' is still on top of the late night ratings. The bad news: that's not saying much.

According to Deadline, the second quarter ratings are in and during the first full quarter since Leno's return to 'The Tonight Show,' the venerable late night institution posted its lowest ratings since rival David Letterman launched 'The Late Show' back in 1993.

As low as the figures were, though -- 'The Tonight Show' averaged just 4 million total viewers for the quarter -- they were still strong enough to eke out a win over 'The Late Show,' which bagged 3.3 million viewers. Still, thanks to Letterman's somewhat younger audience, the gap between the shows in terms of the key 18-49 demographic was razor thin, with 'The Tonight Show' hanging on to the win with a 1.1 rating compared to 'The Late Show's' 0.9.
So what do all these esoteric numbers mean exactly? The bottom line is that it seems the bad PR generated by NBC's recent late night game of musical chairs and the subsequent axing of Conan O'Brien may have had at least a temporary effect on the figures, as this marks the closest Letterman has been to Leno in both viewers and ratings since 1995.

But the big winner in the late night game may in fact be, of all things, ABC's 'Nightline,' which as TVNewser points out finished with 3.7 million viewers, ahead of 'the Late Show,' and nearly caught 'The Tonight Show' in the 18-49 demo as well. With both Leno and Letterman posting near-record low ratings, it seems as though for now, anyway, more and more people are tuning into the news and tuning out the late night wars.

Letterman and Leno have a few months to get things together; O'Brien's new TBS show is expected to debut some time in November.

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Karma for Leno being an indian-giver.

July 03 2010 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

Conan couldn't hold his own in the ratings before. Doubt anyone's worried about him.

July 01 2010 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good thing you fired Conan, isn't it NBC? He was OBVIOUSLY the problem.

July 01 2010 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ah poetic justice, however temporary, is so sweet.

July 01 2010 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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