‘Early’ ayem riser

'Today' falters as competish picks up pace

NEW YORK — The morning race was on the march again last week, with longtime leader NBC News’ “Today” continuing to fall behind the competish in terms of growth.

While “Today” was flat in the key demo of adults 25-54 (2.5/18), ABC News’ “Good Morning America” was up 10% (1.8/13) compared with the same week last year, and CBS News’ “The Early Show” improved by 22% (to 1.1/8), according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Today” was down 3% among total viewers (5.78 million). “GMA” was up 3% (4.77 million), while “Early” was up 9% (2.8 million)

“Early”– perennially third in the ayem race — continued to improve, enjoying double-digit growth across all demos.

For the first four weeks of the TV season, “Early” posted its best total viewing aud in nearly a decade, and its best showing in adults 25-54 since 1995, according to Nielsen.

So far this season, “Early” also was up in key markets, including a 50% bump in Los Angeles.

Ayem program’s sudden popularity seemed to help CBS Daytime, with sudser “The Young and the Restless” taking the No. 1 spot in adults 18-49 soon after the fall season commenced, according to Nielsen.

If the Peacock was suffering any in the morning, it continued to dominate latenight. Last week, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” maintained its best advantage over CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” in five seasons.

Season-to-date, Leno is up 5% in adults 18-49 and 4% in total viewers compared with the same frame last year, while Letterman is down 12% in adults 18-49 and 5% in total viewers. Last week, Leno drew a 2.2 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 6 million total viewers. Letterman drew a 1.5 rating/6 share and 3.7 million total viewers.

NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” also dominated the competish last week. Fighting for second, CBS’ “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” topped the second half of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in all key categories, including adults 18-49 and men 18-49, in the half-hour they share.

On Sunday mornings, CBS News’ “Face the Nation” nudged out ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulous” and reclaimed the No. 2 spot. “Face” delivered 2.4 million viewers, and “This Week,” 2.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

NBC News’ “Meet the Press” easily remained at No. 1, drawing 4.332 million viewers — a 77% advantage over “Face” and a 93 % advantage over “This Week.”

In the key news demo adults 25-54, “Meet” had a 67% advantage over “Face” and an 88% advantage over “This Week.” (1.5 vs. 0.9 vs. 0.8).

Nick and Kids WB continued to see numbers droop on Saturday morning.

In Kids 6-11, Nick stayed in first place, but with delivery down 6% season to date, finishing ayem with 1.2 million viewers. Kids WB saw a more discouraging 25% drop in same demo, registering 970,000.

Tadpole, most popular with boys 6-11, has stumbled this fall, with delivery down 24% to 739,000 season to date.

Net will shake up its sked Nov. 1 when “Xiaolin Showdown” and “Teen Titan” join the lineup — changes first announced this spring.

Brighter spots were more evident for sibling cabler Cartoon Network. With launch of an all new lineup this fall, Cartoon has seen boys 6-11 delivery increase 38% this season to 336,000, placing it third in the ad-friendly boys demo.

(Lily Oei contributed to this report.)

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