NEW YORK — A visit from former President Bill Clinton last week helped CBS latenight host David Letterman come within earshot of NBC’s Jay Leno, capping off a summer that’s seen Letterman chase away the doldrums.
According to Nielsen Media Research, “Late Show With David Letterman” drew a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and averaged 4.9 million viewers during the week of Aug. 2, while “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” drew a 1.8 rating and averaged 5.1 million viewers.
Letterman beat or tied Leno in several key categories on three nights last week, including sweeping Tuesday, when Clinton was his guest. Letterman delivered a 2.1 demo rating and 6.3 million viewers, while Leno delivered a 1.9 rating and 5.1 million viewers.
On Monday, Letterman tied Leno in the demo with the guest appearances of Pamela Anderson and Al Franken. Letterman again swept Thursday, except for households, with a guest appearance by Jada Pinkett Smith and a musical performance by Jessica Simpson.
While Letterman has seen aud growth over the past few months, Leno has been suffering a mild case of the summer blues, although he remains the No. 1 latenight host.
So far this summer, Letterman is in his best competitive position against Leno since summer 2001 in adults 18-49 (1.5 rating vs. 1.8 rating) and since the summer of 1996 in total viewers (4.1 million vs. 5 million).
According to Nielsen, Leno is down 14% in adults 18-49 and 13% in total viewers summer-to-date compared to the same frame last year, marking Leno’s worst summer performance since Letterman’s show debuted.
Letterman is up 7% in the demo and 12% in total viewers summer-to-date, although his show saw especially low ratings last summer, making this summer’s increases look all the more dramatic.
While Leno may be down from last summer, he remains the clear market leader in latenight, winning 215 of the past 229 nights in adults 18-40, as well as the past nine TV seasons.
In daytime last week, ABC’s soaps continued their winning streak in the demo, averaging a 1.9 rating in women 18-49, according to Nielsen. NBC suds came in second, posting a 1.7 rating, while CBS’ lineup drew a 1.6 rating.
On Sunday mornings, NBC News’ “Meet the Press With Tim Russert” commanded 4.1 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in the key news demo, adults 25-54. CBS News’ “Face the Nation” came in second with 2.5 million viewers and tied with ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” in the demo (0.7 rating). “This Week” averaged 2.3 million viewers. Fox’s “Fox News Sunday” averaged 1.4 million viewers.
Weekday mornings saw NBC News’ “Today” average 5.3 million viewers last week and deliver a 2.2 rating in adults 25-54, according to Nielsen. ABC News’ “Good Morning America” delivered 4.3 million viewers and a 1.6 rating.
While trailing well behind the competish, CBS News’ “The Early Show” delivered its most-watched week in 11 years, averaging 2.9 million viewers. Show delivered a 1.1 rating in adults 25-54.
“GMA” was the only show up in the key news demo compared to the same week last year. “Today” was down 8% in adults 25-54, while “Early” was flat. “GMA” was up 7%. In total viewers, “GMA” was up 16% compared to the same frame last year; “Early” was up 13%; and “Today,” 3%.