Latenight party still going… sort of

'Letterman' ratings rise in repeats

Amid whispers that the major latenight players might soon be returning to their studios for new episodes, the Nielsen ratings for the first week of strike-dictated repeats suggest the sky didn’t exactly fall.

Repeats of “Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS, in fact, actually outperformed the show’s prior adults 18-49 season average by 9%, according to Nielsen, while skedmate “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” rose by 14%.

On the other hand, latenight leader NBC hasn’t held up well. “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” came in 18% behind its prior season average, while “Conan O’Brien” declined by 11%.

Also down sharply, according to a Magna Global analysis of Nielsen data for last week, were Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” (off 27% vs. its prior season average) and “The Colbert Report” (down 20%).

It’s already been a down year for latenight, with one possible explanation being that auds are using the post-primetime hours to catch up on their DVR playback. DVR usage has more than doubled vs. last fall, to account for roughly 21% of Nielsen’s national sample.

And if the latenight shows don’t return to originals before long, viewers may fall out of the habit of watching live altogether.

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