As a member of Team Coco, the Comedy Examiner's been quite curious how Jay Leno's return to "The Tonight Show" would fair in the ratings. Would Jay be able to pull down the same sorta numbers he was pulling down back before Conan took over the "Tonight Show" desk, or would he fall under the weight of a bitter audience to the numbers over at the "Late Show"? After two weeks, we've got some answers. Read on for the details, my gentle Examiner readers...
So, it's been two weeks (a little over, but you get the idea) since Jay Leno resumed his duties as host of NBC's "Tonight Show". Before Jay came back, there was much speculation over whether or not the comedian could put up the same sort of ratings he'd earned prior to heading to primetime, and there were just as many predictions that he'd beat Letterman again as there were predictions that he'd lose.
Turns out, Leno's kinda winning. "Kinda" because he's not pulling down the same amount of viewers that he did during his original "Tonight Show" run, but he is beating Letterman in the late night game after two weeks. Let's take a closer look at how he's done:
Between March 8 and 12, Leno averaged 4.4 million viewers, trumping David Letterman's The Late Show, which averaged 3.8 million viewers. Leno also won out among the adults-18-to-49 demographic.
He beat Letterman overall during week one, too, with a 1.5 to Letterman's 1.0 share. Here's the catch, though: Leno's ratings are actually down 13% from where they were a year ago-- long before Conan took over the "Tonight Show" desk-- and down 3% overall. It's likely that this number reflects the amount of people that were soured towards Leno following the "Late Night Wars" at NBC. Frankly, I'm surprised it's not higher. Then again, you should never underestimate the power of a hilarious "Headlines" bit.
Meanwhile, it should also be pointed out that Leno's ratings are barely above the numbers that Conan was putting up while he was in charge of "The Tonight Show". It's also been reported that the average age of the Leno viewer is higher than both Letterman and Conan-- 56 for Leno, 54 for Letterman, and 46 for Conan. This information was brought to you by "Obvious Industries", Old Folks' Home Division.
As many analysts have pointed out, the latenight game isn't won in weeks-- it's won over long periods of time. Only time will tell if Leno's able to maintain his position as the king of late night over Letterman. After two weeks, Jay's leading, but it's far from the lead that NBC wanted or expected him to have over CBS' "Late Show". Even though he's currently losing, my guess is that Letterman's still feeling pretty happy about all this.
What do you guys think? Leno or Letterman? Don't say "Conan", as he's no longer an option. Have you watched Jay Leno's "Tonight Show"? Is it just as hilarious as you remember it being? Are you sticking with Dave through all this? Sound off in the comments section below, folks: we wanna know what you think about all this. And, after you've done that, check out some of these other recent Comedy Examiner articles:
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(photos: top-- boston.com, middle-- boston.com, bottom-- willyoubemyhero.files.wordpress.com)