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Leno, Letterman Slip Big Time Here

Jay Leno, host of the Tonight Show. Cropped fr...

Jay Leno: Big Ratings Slide Here in July

It is 11:35 p.m., do you know where the viewers for late-night talk shows are?

The Emmy voters aren’t the only ones ignoring “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on NBC and “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS. Both shows failed to get nominated a few weeks ago.

More WNY viewers also are ignoring them, too.

According to the ratings for the July sweeps, Leno and Letterman have lost a combined 25 percent of their household audience from a year ago.

Leno has lost about a third of his audience from a year ago. Some of the loss can be attributed to the decline in the ratings for Channel 2 news at 11 p.m. But not all of it.

Leno still holds a slight edge over Letterman here, 3.3-3.1. The one 11:35 gainer locally is ABC’s “Nightline,” which still is third in the time slot primarily because of the poor lead-in from Channel 7’s 11 p.m. news.

Where are all the former talk show viewers going? Researchers believe they have most likely headed to one of the hundreds of cable channels, or perhaps to their DVRs and On Demand to watch shows at their convenience.

Leno’s local decline calls into question NBC’s decision to dump Conan O’Brien early and give Leno back “The Tonight Show.” Perhaps it should have waited a little longer. Not that Conan is a big hit here. His  TBS show at 11 p.m. gained .1 (one-tenth of a point) and now averages a .9 (that’s right nine-tenths of a point) here. Fox reruns of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” beat it here with a 1.0 average from 11:30-12:30.

Not that many local viewers are headed to Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show –which got some Emmy love — either. Kimmel’s audience grew about 25 percent on Channel 7 from a year ago for his post-“Nightline” show, but that’s from a 1.2 rating. The 1.5 rating he gets now is still less than half of the audience that Leno or Letterman get here. However, if Kimmel’s show started at 11:35 here and was on Channel 2 or Channel 4, he likely would give the older guys a run for their money.

The 12:35 a.m. shows headlined by Jimmy Fallon on NBC and Craig Ferguson on CBS both lost audience from a year ago but still beat Kimmel here.

One thing is clear from the numbers. Buffalo seems to be as tired of all the old talk show acts as the Emmy voters are.

Channel 2 is getting quite an Olympics bonus during NBC’s daytime coverage. It averaged a 7.6 average rating on Monday and Tuesday. Those are numbers the network affiliate would love to see NBC’s prime time entertainment programs get. Many of NBC’s prime time shows get ratings in the 2-5 range here.


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3 responses to "Leno, Letterman Slip Big Time Here"

  1. SARAH says:

    After seeing Letterman in person on his show, he’s rude to his guests. Hmpf. I don’t watch him like I used to. Plus, he’s a man whore.

  2. Nice picture of Leno…lol

  3. The problem with so many of the late-night yukfests these days is that they’re stale. Leno and Letterman are out of gas, and so is Conan most nights. They’ve all been on late-night TV for two decades or more (three in Letterman’s case) and it shows. Even Carson started to show signs of age in his last decade on air, and when Arsenio Hall took advantage of that, Johnny was faced with the fact that it was time to retire. CBS just gave Letterman yet another extension– madness. Perhaps the network’s just scared of trying to launch a new show in the wake of the Jay Leno Show debacle, but I can’t help thinking what a big mistake it is in the long term. They, and the entire late-night scene, needs fresh blood.

    It is a great challenge to remain funny and relevant for such a long time, and these guys aren’t up to the challenge, especially in such a crowded environment. Letterman in particular is a shadow of his former self. The only one who still has any devoted following is Jon Stewart, and even he doesn’t have the same audience as he did on his MTV show in the 1990s; his current show is driven more as political exposé under a thin veneer of “satire” than as a comedy show (as much as Stewart may deny it).

    It’s a challenge that Fallon, Kimmel and Ferguson had best be highly aware of in the coming years. They may be hip and funny now but eventually they’ll run out of jokes. Or at least good ones.

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