Peacock flies to victory in latenight sweeps war

'Leno' first in February, 'Conan' continues conquest

NEW YORK — Despite the huge amount of publicity devoted to David Letterman’s part-time return to latenight, NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” placed first in February sweeps with an average of 6.1 million viewers.

CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” finished the February sweeps in the closest competitive position to “Tonight Show” since February 1996, with an average of 4.7 million viewers, up 34% over last year’s February sweeps (3.5 million). Compared with last February, “Tonight Show” was up 2% in viewers (from 6.0 million).

‘Conan’ the conqueror

NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” finished the February sweeps with its 21st consecutive sweep victory over CBS’ “Late Late Show” in key demos and total viewers. “Late Night” won the sweep with a 71% advantage over the “Late Late Show” in adults 18-49 (1.2 rating/9 share vs. 0.7/5) and adults 25-54 (1.2/9 vs. 0.7/5), and a 78% advantage in total viewers (2.5 million vs. 1.4 million).

Meanwhile, averaging 4.7 million viewers, ABC News’ “Good Morning America” posted its best February sweeps performance since 1996, when it averaged 5.0 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings for the period (Feb. 3-March 1).

Compared with last year during the same period, “GMA’s” audience grew by 28% among total viewers (from 3.9 million), 11% among adults 18-49 and 14% among adults 25-54.

‘Early’ stumbles

In contrast, compared with last year’s February sweeps, CBS’ “Early Show” was down 10% (from 2.9 million viewers to 2.6 million). Meanwhile, ayem leader NBC News’ “Today Show” was up 4% (from 6 million viewers to 6.2 million). In adults 18-49, “Early Show” was down 12% and “Today” was up 1%. In adults 25-54, CBS was down 10%, while NBC was up 6%.

ABC’s daytime lineup was No. 1 during sweeps in adults 18-49 with a 2.6 rating and a 19 share — outperforming NBC by 21% and CBS by 17%. ABC’s “The View” marked its best February sweeps performance in the time period since 1993, when “The Home Show” aired. With a 1.5 rating/13 share, the program was up 9% over February 1999.

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