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Ferguson’s ‘Late Late’ ratings rise

Revamped talker rating second behind Conan

Latenight’s newest host is finding an audience.

Craig Ferguson, the bemused Scotsman who won the sweepstakes to host the “Late Late Show,” is taking the show to new ratings heights.

Show rated an average of 1.91 million viewers during the February sweeps, putting distance between the “Late Late Show” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and moving into a respectable second place behind NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” (2.53 million).

Ferguson, who beat out three other candidates for the job, turned in a better February sweeps perf than either of his predecessors, Craig Kilborn and Tom Snyder. Eye senior VP for programming Kelly Kahl estimates Ferguson has added 100,000 viewers to the show since he took over 10 weeks ago. “Late Late” is the only 12:30 show to gain viewers over last year, with “Conan” down 9%. “Kimmel,” which starts a half-hour earlier, is down 4%.

“Late Late” has pulled ahead of “Kimmel” by 356,000 viewers, up from 228,000 last year, and closed the gap with “Conan” to 638,000. Last year, “Conan” beat Kilborn’s “Late Late Show” by nearly a million.

Ferguson has won acclaim for his interviewing skills and a disarming sensibility that makes guests comfortable. Rockier has been the opening monologue, which exec producer Todd Yasui admits has been a work in progress.

“In any latenight show, it always takes a while to find your footing,” he said. “We have to find the voice of the host, and he needs to find his voice, too.”

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