More Strike Upside: Disney's (DIS) Nightline Grows Stronger

Yet another reason that Jay and Dave are eager to get back to work: Nightline. Because Nightline is produced by ABC’s news division, its writers are still working, producing new shows that run against Leno and Letterman at 11:35 p.m. It’s already shifting the balance in late night, which could cost CBS and NBC millions.

In the first week of the walkout, Nightline averaged 3.8 million viewers, a 6% increase from a year ago, and came close to knocking off Leno, which averaged 3.87 million, a 35% y/y drop. Letterman averaged 3.96 million viewers, a 15% drop. In the 25-54 demographic, Nightline actually beat Leno.

Ted Koppel’s fans griped after he left two years ago, but the show’s ratings have steadily improved since then. Now now ABC is hoping that the strike will give some of Ted’s old fans a chance to to sample the newish show. (And yes, ABC does have its own late-night comedy show that’s being hurt during the strike, but there aren’t that many Jimmy Kimmel viewers out there to begin with, so it’s not taking a huge hit).

But even if Nightline gets a big writers’ strike bump, it won’t stop Disney from shuttering the show if it gets a chance to land Leno when his NBC contract expires in 2009.

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