Thursday, October 5, 2023


September 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It was not an auspicious start-of-the-season week for either Jay Leno or David Letterman. With DVR use way up and more and more viewers watching shows via cable’s on-demand technology or via Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, or catching hipper, less restricted hosts on cable, like Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, the two late-night hosts clearly have more than each other to compete against. Not to mention the third network show airing at 11:30 p.m., ABC’s Nightline, which trounced both the Tonight show and Late-Night last week for the first time during the premiere week of a new television season. Letterman took the biggest hit — losing 560,000 viewers –a 15-percent loss — from the comparable week a year ago. Leno was down 160,000 viewers — 4 percent from last year. Among the key group of 18-to-49 year-olds, Leno and Letterman were virtually tied (1.065 million for Leno; 1.049 for Letterman — a difference that is statistically insignificant) but Nightline drew 1.248 million viewers. Analysts frequently point out that Nightline’s numbers reflect viewing over a half-hour period and those for Leno and Letterman for an hour, and that many viewers head off to bed during the second half of their shows. However, New York Times TV writer Bill Carter observed, “That hour or half-hour comparison did not prevent the late-night entertainment shows from beating Nightline in premiere week in prior years.”