HOLLYWOOD — David Letterman’s return to action Monday night following a bout with shingles lifted his CBS latenight program “The Late Show” to a rare ratings victory over NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”
According to Nielsen overnights from 55 metered markets, “Late Show” topped “Tonight” (5.3/13 vs. 4.3/10) for just the second time this season. The 5.3 is 29% better than the CBS show’s Monday average this season (4.1) and is its second best overnight score of the season, behind the 6.3/15 for an appearance by Dr. Phil in February.
Letterman hadn’t hosted his show since Feb. 25, with celebrities including Bruce Willis, Elvis Costello and Regis Philbin filling in as substitute hosts.
Following Letterman, CBS’ “Late, Late Show With Craig Kilborn” topped NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in the overnights (2.1/8 vs. 1.9/7) for the first time since August 2000. Night marked the first of a week’s worth of “Late, Late Show” broadcasts from New Orleans.
The anticipation of Letterman’s return seemed to energize the Eye net’s primetime lineup as well. CBS swept the night’s half-hours in adults 18-49, paced by “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.7/16).