Late-Night Talk Shows Dealing With Loss of Younger Viewers

Jul 8, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Late-night talk shows were once considered bulletproof against digital video recorders because it was thought their topical nature would encourage viewers to watch the shows in their time slots, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

But it’s turning out that the shows are losing younger viewers, who don’t feel the need to watch or tape the shows and who may be turning to competitors such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the story says.

Television shows airing at 11:30 p.m. generally draw a 2.5 rating with viewers between 18 and 49 years old, but Jay Leno’s and David Letterman’s shows combined are drawing only a 2 rating with the demographic. The sole network talk show at 11:30 p.m. to gain viewers during the second quarter was "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which added 150,000 viewers from a year earlier, the story says.

Leno’s show has seen its average viewer age jump from 46.6 years old to 55.6, while Letterman’s average audience age is 54.7 years old, the article adds.

Nevertheless, both Leno’s and Letterman’s shows sold well in this year’s upfront advertising market. David F. Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS, said the late-night talk shows may stabilize in the fall following last season’s disruption with the shuffling between Leno and Conan O’Brien.

“Some late-night viewers just went elsewhere,” Poltrack told The Times. “We may see some of them come back.”


  1. Gotta love that Poltrack. Always seeing hope for a hopeless medium. Broadcasting is so twentieth century.

  2. It would appear that Mr. Poltrack is well on his way to a position in corporate communications. What with the spin and all. Both Dave AND Jay are down around a million viewers each (give or take). Are they or this type of show becoming extinct? Stay tuned.

  3. Kudos to you! This is a really good blog here and I love your style of writing. How did you get so good at blogging?

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