CBS primetime pumps ‘Late Show’

Eye openers help wake up Letterman

NEW YORK — David Letterman is closing the gap with latenight rival Jay Leno, helped by a CBS primetime that dominated the November sweeps in key demos.

“Late Show With David Letterman” saw its best November sweep against NBC’s “The Tonight Show” in total viewers since 1994 and since 2001 in the prized 18-49 demo.

With three days to go in the month of November, “Letterman” was up 9% in average total viewers (5 million), while “Leno” dropped off 6% (5.9 million).

“Letterman” was up 6% in adults 18-49 over the same frame last year and up an impressive 17% in 18-34.

“Leno” was down 13% in adults 18-49 and 11% in 18-34.

The “Letterman” show has improved its ratings for every night of the week and now occasionally beats “Leno” in total viewers on Monday nights, CBS said.

“David Letterman is benefiting from the fact that our promotional platform is stronger in the 10 to 11 o’clock hour,” said David Poltrack, CBS exec veep of research.

CBS’ primetime strength, driven by shows like “CSI: Miami” and “Without a Trace,” are helping the Eye in latenight.

Also surging is the Eye’s Sunday morning lineup: “Face the Nation” had its largest margin over ABC’s “This Week” (338,000 more viewers) since the advent of People Meters in 1987.

ABC, like CBS up vs. last year in the November sweep, also boasts a revitalized primetime, but its hit shows are positioned in earlier timeslots that don’t give much support to latenight programming.

“Desperate Housewives” airs on Sunday night, while “Lost” airs on Wednesdays but at 8.

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