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‘Leno’ ratings get Rock solid boost

NBC pacts to b'cast WWF games, gets stake

Maybe NBC is onto something with this wrestling-football thing.

One week after lifting “Saturday Night Live” to its best male demographic ratings in six years, World Wrestling Federation superstar the Rock has helped the net’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” post its highest weekly average in young men since October, according to Nielsen.

Earlier this week, the Peacock pacted with the World Wrestling Federation to broadcast games of the latter’s new pro football league in primetime on Saturday nights (Daily Variety, March 29.) NBC also took an equity stake in the WWF.

During the week ending March 24, “Tonight” averaged a 2.0/11 in men 18-34, matching its best mark in the 22 weeks since NBC covered the World Series.

Overall last week, the NBC latenighter averaged a 2.1/11 in adults 18-34, topping CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” by 75%. And in adults 18-49, Leno topped Letterman and ABC’s one-hour block of “Nightline” and “Politically Incorrect” by 79%. Averages for “Late Show” are for the first three days of the week only, since the show’s Thursday and Friday editions aired outside the normal time period due to NCAA basketball coverage.

In total viewers, Leno topped Letterman by 51% (5.9 million vs. 3.9 million). The CBS show, though, was up 22% compared with the same week a year ago.

Ayem news good

Meanwhile, the news is also good for the Peacock web in the morning news battle.

NBC’s “Today” averaged 6.15 million viewers in the first quarter of the year, eclipsing the all-time mark set by the program in the first quarter of 1998. For the period, the Peacock ayem show also equaled the combined ratings of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CBS’ “Early Show” in the key morning demo of women 25-54.

In daytime, the CBS lineup continues to dominate among households but ABC is beginning to pull away in the women 18-49 demo. This week, the Alphabet web topped the Eye web by 18%. “The View” is a big reason for the net’s gains, last week topping its year-ago rating by 11% despite airing in reruns.

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