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.