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'Nightline' Beats Letterman, Leno Ratings for Premiere Week for First Time

The ABC news magazine’s performance provided a strong lead-in for "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which had its second best premiere week ever.

Bill Weir
Donna Svennevik/ABC

NEW YORK - Ratings for NBC's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and CBS' Late Show With David Letterman fell below those of ABC news magazine Nightline during fall season premiere week, a first during that week, the New York Times reported.

Both late-night talk shows had a 0.8 rating - their lowest ever for a premiere week, the Times said.

Meanwhile, Nightline's overall viewership was up 7 percent from last year, while the late-night talk shows recorded declines especially in younger viewer segments, the paper said.

It added that ABC’s success spilled over to its own late-night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, which had its second best premiere week ever.

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Letterman lost 560,000 viewers from last year, down 15 percent, while Leno lost 160,000 for a 4 percent drop. Among viewers aged 18 to 49, Leno was down 20 percent, or 270,000 viewers, while Letterman dropped 16 percent, losing 200,000 viewers, according to the Times.

Overall, Nightline had 1.25 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demo, compared with 1.07 million for  Leno and 1.05 million for Letterman. The Times highlighted though that Nightline benefits from being a half hour rather than an hour-long show.

Letterman's performance in the young demos narrowed his gap with Leno though. A year ago, he had been behind by slightly less than 100,000 viewers in the young demo.