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Late-Night Ratings: Letterman Repeats Top Conan Originals

Repeats of The Late Show with David Letterman topped new episodes of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien in total viewers and households (albeit by a razor thin margin) for the week ending August 7, according to Nielsen live plus same day data.

Letterman’s Late Show delivered a 2.1/06 household rating and 2.95 million total viewers to The Tonight Show’s 2.0/05 rating and 2.94 million viewers.

NBC was quick to point out that The Tonight Show still won by a sizeable margin in the key demographics, most importantly persons 18-49, which is the demo most-coveted by advertisers.

Although it targets a different demographic and is not a late-night, comedy program, ABC News’ Nightline is relevant when talking about total viewers. Nightline beat both the Late Show and Tonight Show handily among total viewers that week with 3.25 million.

Nightline has been something of a wildcard in the equation, drawing excellent total viewership numbers and P25-54, an effect which could be sapping away viewers from one or both of the comedy shows, though that is hard to quantify.

NBC also pointed out that The Tonight Show is more than 10 years
younger than the competition, which it says gives an edge to the Late
and ABC’s Nightline in total viewers.

“The median age of Conan’s audience last week was 46.8, more than 10
years younger than Letterman’s 57.0 and almost exactly 10 years younger
than the 56.7 of ABC’s Nightline,” NBC said.

Still, the win by CBS during an off week has to be a troubling sign for NBC, which should be handily beating the competition when they are in repeats.

Letterman has been making inroads against O’Brien over the past month or so, beating him in total viewers and occasionally some of the older demographics. He has also been closing the gap among P18-49, though is yet to top O’Brien in that demo.