NBC latenight team beats rivals

Leno, 'Late Night' among ratings winners

There’s no stopping NBC’s powerful latenight team as “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night” and “Saturday Night Live” all overwhelmed their competition in ratings for the first quarter.

For the 30th quarter in a row (including two ties), “Tonight Show” (2.2 rating/9 share in adults 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) topped all latenight rivals in the 18-49 demo.

“Tonight Show” easily led ABC’s “Nightline” (1.6/6, 4.5 million), CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” (1.5/7, 4.1 million) and ABC’s combo of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “UpClose” (0.8/4, 1.8 million). Among adults 18-49 viewers, “Tonight” beat “Late Show” by 41% (2.81 million vs. 1.99m) — up from the 32% margin of a year ago.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien” (1.1/7 in adults 18-49) also dominated CBS’ “Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn” (0.7/5), extending its consecutive-quarter victory streak to 33 (since first-quarter 1995).

ABC News’ “Nightline,” buoyed by war coverage the last two weeks of March, attracted its largest overall audience and best adults 25-54 average for a first quarter in three years.

And compared with the first quarter of 2002, “Nightline” grew its overall audience by 8%; Letterman and Leno both dipped slightly.

NBC also continued to do well with “Saturday Night Live,” as its 4 rating/16 share among adults 18-49 and 8.2 million viewers overall for the quarter easily topped Fox’s “Mad TV” (2.5/9 in A18-49, 5.2 million viewers).

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