Late-night ratings: Leno tops, Letterman drops

NBC's return to a sane late-night situation this fall gave the network very slight gains compared to last year and a victory over chief rival CBS.

With Jay Leno out of 10 p.m. and back in "The Tonight Show," the series averaged 3.8 million viewers and a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating. That's up 3% compared to last year with Conan O'Brien in the slot, and edges out David Letterman's "Late Show" (3.8 million viewers, 0.9) in the adult demo.

One might have expected Leno's numbers to have risen a bit more considering he now has scripted dramas boosting 10 p.m., providing better flow going into the local news. Also, ABC's "Nightline" has been rivaling and often beating late-night talk shows this year, and managed to tie "The Tonight Show."

But a win's a win and, besides, CBS' "Late Show" sank by comparison -- down a steep 31%. 

"Late Show" was aided by last Wednesday's appearance by Joaquin Phoenix, though that wasn't as much of a needle mover as Barack Obama visiting the show last year.

Here's the numbers:

ADULTS 18-49

11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

NBC "Tonight," 1.0 rating, 4 share

CBS "Late Show," 0.9/4

11:35 p.m.-12:05 a.m. ET

ABC "Nightline," 1.0/4

12:05-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC "Kimmel," 0.6/3

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC "Late Night," 0.6/4

CBS "Late Late Show," 0.5/3

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC "Last Call," 0.4/3*


11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

NBC "Tonight," 3.8 million viewers

CBS "Late Show," 3.8 million viewers

11:35 p.m.-12:05 a.m. ET

ABC "Nightline," 3.6 million viewers

12:05-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC "Kimmel," 1.7 million viewers

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC "Late Night," 1.8 million viewers

CBS "Late Late Show," 1.8 million viewers

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC "Last Call," 1.0 million viewers*

* encore