Dave gets a Rush beating Leno, Stern

Rush Limbaugh carried more weight than radio rival Howard Stern in their head-to-head appearances on the latenight network talkshows, according to Nielsen’s daytime and fringe ratings report for the week of Dec. 13.

CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” on Dec. 17 with Limbaugh as a guest earned a 7.3 rating/20 share, its highest Friday-night rating ever and third-highest individual rating. It finished 38% ahead of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (5.3/14), which had Stern as a guest.

Still, appearances by Stern — whose top-rated morning show appears in fewer markets than Limbaugh’s syndicated program — and actress Julia Roberts provided “Tonight” with its best individual day ratings since last summer.

Overall, Letterman (5.9/18) beat Leno (4.7/14) for the 16th consecutive week. In the first half-hour between Tuesday and Friday, Letterman averaged a 6.5/18, which is 16% ahead of “Tonight” (5.6/15) and 23% above ABC’s “Nightline” (5.3/14 ).

Letterman continued to lead by wide margins in all adult demos, particularly the younger categories.

A rerun of “Saturday Night Live” featuring Christmas highlights garnered a 9. 1/25, its best household rating and adult 18-49 performance (7.1) since the week of Feb. 15.

In daytime, CBS stretched its unbeaten streak in the household ratings to 250 consecutive weeks, with a 6.1/22 vs. a 4.7/17 for ABC and 3.1/11 for NBC. CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” (7.9/29) led the soaps, with the web claiming three of the top five programs and six of the top 10. Its four daytime dramas averaged a 6.3/22, followed by ABC (5.4/19 for its four soaps) and NBC (with a 4.3/15 for its two serials).

CBS & ABC in demo war

In addition to its household performance, CBS claimed six of the top 10 programs among women 25-54 — tying ABC in the demo with 3.7 — and five among women 18-49. But ABC won with younger women, capturing a 3.8 rating compared to CBS’ 3.5 and NBC’s 2.1.

NBC’s daytime serials still were up 5% in homes, 22% in women 18-49 and 8% in women 25-54 vs. the comparable week a year ago, which was the largest percentage increase for all networks in homes and younger women.

In the breakfastcast race, ABC’s “Good Morning, America” won the household race for the 16th consecutive week, with a 4.5/20. NBC’s “Today” show averaged a 4.3/19 and “CBS This Morning” pulled a 3.2/14.

But “Today” grabbed its 20th straight win in the key demographic groups of adults 18-49 (1.9) and 25-54 (2.2). NBC was up 6% in younger adults and 5% in older adults, while “GMA” dropped 25% in the 18-49 group and 21% with the 25-54 crowd.

The “Fox Children’s Network” continued to dominate the Saturday morning race, posting a 7.1/26 in the key demo of children 2-11, which compared to a 4.7/18 for CBS and 4.4/16 for ABC. NBC, which focuses on teens, earned a 0.6/2 in the category.

In the Saturday morning household ratings contest, Fox earned a 4.0/14, followed by CBS (2.7/13), NBC (2.7/10) and ABC (2.4/9).

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