As late-night television’s two biggest stars both posted ratings declines, NBC’s "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS’s "Late Show with David Letterman" were beaten by ABC’s "Nightline" during the debut week of the new television season, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog.
"Nightline" increased its viewership by 7%, while Letterman lost 560,000 viewers, a 15% decline, and Leno lost 160,000 viewers, a 4% drop, the story notes. Declines were even sharper among viewers 18 to 49, with Leno down 20% in that group and Letterman down 16% in the demo, the piece notes.
“Nightline” averaged 1.248 million viewers 18-49 for the week, to 1.065 million for Leno and 1.049 million for Letterman.
In NBC’s case it’s possible that the network’s lackluster prime-time performance may be hurting its late-night programming, Carter writes.
"Though ABC hardly showed formidable strength in the 10 p.m. hour (which usually helps the late-night ratings) it did have a few stronger-than-usual results in premiere week, including good ratings for the dramas ‘Castle’ and ‘Revenge,’ and an extended episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’" Carter noted.