Letterman closes gap in latenight

Jay still leads, but 'Late Night' up 16% to 4.02 million viewers

HOLLYWOOD — Leno still has the lead, but Letterman has the momentum.

CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman” closed the gap a bit with its latenight rival during the just concluded season, although NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” remains comfortably ahead by all rating measures.

According to Nielsen, Leno’s total viewership during the 1999-2000 season remained on par with the previous season at 5.89 million while Letterman spiked by 16% to 4.02 million (from 3.47 million).

Both latenight shows maintained their year-ago adults 18-49 averages: “Tonight” at 2.5/12, “Late” at 1.6/8. Letterman did make some sizable demo inroads among adults 25-54, shaving Leno’s advantage to 50% (2.7 vs. 1.8) from 75% a year ago (2.8 vs. 1.6).

In May sweeps, a similar storyline played out: Leno won in viewers, 6.05 million to 3.98 million, but Letterman gained by 13% and Leno by 1%. “Late Show” gained by 15% vs. last year in adults 18-34 (1.5 vs. 1.3).

“The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn” continued CBS’ momentum in latenight, gaining 7% in viewers this season (1.45 million vs. 1.36) and 40% in adults 18-34 (0.8 vs. 0.6). “Late Late Show” still trails NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” which maintained its total viewership level vs. a year ago.

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