Jay Leno beat David Letterman in the ratings last last night, preserving the pecking order of the last decade and dashing CBS’ hope that Letterman’s WGA deal would hand him a ratings advantage, at least for now. The Wednesday night numbers, according to Nielsen:
NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”: 7.19 million viewers (striking writers)
CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman”: 5.6 million viewers (working writers)
NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”: 2.84 million viewers (striking writers)
CBS’s “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”: 2.24 million viewers (working writers)
Those ratings gaps between NBC and CBS are comparable to pre-strike levels, and as we predicted, reflect season-high numbers for both shows. Locally, Letterman won New York, while Leno took Los Angeles and Chicago.
For comparison, note the average viewers for the first six weeks of the season before the strike began, Nov. 5:
Jay: 5.03 million
Dave: 3.8 million
Conan: 2.07 million
Ferguson: 1.75 million
A side note, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, a favourite of one SAI managing editor, drew a mere 1.75 million viewers last night, below both his Wednesday average and his pre-strike six week average of 1.9 million. But as we’ve pointed out before, Kimmel’s ratings are less about Jimmy and more about the lead-in he’s getting from “Nightline.”
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