NBC’s scheduling snafu singled out Jay and Conan, but the competition for late-night viewers comes from everywhere. We take a look at ratings from September 2009 to early 2010 and examine the hits (Letterman) and misses (Fallon) that are shaking up late night’s playing field.
The Jay Leno Show
(5.4 million viewers)
While his audience is about 10 percent bigger than what he earned on The Tonight Show in fall 2008, it’s too small for prime time, as well as for NBC affiliates, whose newscasts are taking a ratings nosedive.
The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien
(2.5 million viewers)
The good news: O’Brien is up 27 percent from his 2008 Late Night days. The bad news: His Tonight Show numbers are down 50 percent from Leno’s last year.
Late Show With David Letterman
(“4.2 million viewers)
Here’s the Letterman math: 1 admission of sexual conduct with staffers + 1 highly publicized extortion scandal - Jay Leno as competition = a 5 percent boost in ratings.
(3.9 million viewers)
In a sea of late-night comics, ABC’s newsmagazine — which covers everything from meth labs to Snuggies — stands out as a winner. Since November 2008, the series has seen a 3 percent uptick in viewers.
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
(1.7 million viewers)
Season 7 has dropped 5 percent in total viewers compared to last fall and has lost 2.3 million viewers from its Nightline lead-in. Could it be time for ”I’m F—ing Matt Damon” part 2?
Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson
(2 million viewers)
The Late Late Show celebrated its 1,000th episode in December, and (without Conan to contend with) is also celebrating an 8 percent ratings increase from fall 2008.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
(1.4 million viewers)
Landing the Roots as Late Night’s house band may have secured his street cred, but Fallon’s viewership is 31 percent lower than what Late Night predecessor O’Brien averaged last year.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
1.4 million viewers
One year after a must-watch presidential election, the Comedy Central news show has taken an inevitable dip, down 27 percent from last year’s politically boosted ratings.
The Colbert Report
(1.1 million viewers)
Colbert’s surprise buzz cut in Baghdad (ordered by Obama himself!) made news in 2009, but Comedy Central’s Daily Show spin-off still dropped this fall — it’s down 24 percent from 2008.
Last Call With Carson Daly
From Total Request Live to Last Call to…who knows? Daly, who may be out of a job with the potential scheduling shifts at NBC, is down 350,000 viewers from fall 2008.