Candidates hike ratings

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"Late Show With David Letterman" soared Wednesday with appearances by Sen. Barack Obama and NBA star LeBron James.

CBS' "Late Show" averaged a 4.1 rating/10 share in the Nielsen Media Research metered markets, the second-highest rating the show has received this year. Wednesday night's show managed a rare achievement — beating late-night king "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on NBC. But it wasn't by much, as Leno averaged a 3.9/10.

It was the fourth time this season that "Late Show" has beaten "Tonight." Much more common is a race for second place between ABC's "Nightline" and "Late Show." The CBS show beat "Nightline" (3.0/7) and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (1.3/4) on Wednesday.

Obama's Letterman appearance had little impact on "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," which after Letterman averaged a 1.9/7 in the metered markets compared with "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (1.8/6).

Obama and John McCain also helped Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" get a ratings boost.

As it has for years, "Daily Show" shifted from its New York base to the Democratic National Convention (staged in Denver this year) and the Republican National Convention (St. Paul, Minn.).

For the past two weeks' worth of Tuesday-Friday telecasts, "Daily Show" averaged 1.7 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday. That's up 37% compared with the "Indecision 2004" convention coverage from Boston and New York in 2004. Viewers 18-49 jumped 42% to 1.1 million compared with four years ago, and men 18-24 rose 46% to 186,000.

For the DNC, "Daily Show" was up 23% to 1.5 million viewers and saw double-digit increases in all the major demos. For the RNC, it averaged 1.8 million viewers, up 32% from four years ago.
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