Letterman catches Leno in ratings

'Late Show' matches 'Tonight Show' for first time this season

NBC’s primetime troubles are spreading to latenight.

For the week ending Oct. 8, “Late Show With David Letterman” matched “The Tonight Show” in the adults 18-49 demo for the first time this season, and the CBS latenight talker defeated Jay Leno in adults 25-54.

Overall in the 25-54 demo through three weeks, Letterman is beating Leno with a 1.3 rating vs. 1.2. Leno, however, is best over the same time period in 18-49 by 5%, signficantly reversing the order from a year ago when “Late Show” held a 12% lead.

Although Leno is beating Letterman slightly in total viewers — 3.5 million vs. 3.4 million for the same week — Leno is seeing many of his viewers skew older than when Conan O’Brien hosted the iconic latenight talkshow. A year ago, O’Brien earned a 1.1 rating in the 18-49 demo and Leno recently averaged a 1.0.

One possible reason for Letterman’s uptick is the strength of the Eye’s 10 p.m. dramas. While NBC has had trouble in the hour, CBS is seeing audiences tune into new skeins “Hawaii Five-0” on Monday, “The Defenders” on Wednesday and freshman Friday entry “Blue Bloods.” Returnees “The Good Wife” and “The Mentalist” also remain solid performers for the net.

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