TV Ratings: David Letterman Bows Out With 13.8 Million Viewers, 21-Year High

The late-night icon exited his CBS show after a week of swelling returns.
John Paul Filo/CBS
David Letterman

David Letterman signed off on Wednesday night, putting the finishing touch on a 33-year career in late night — the last 22 of which he's spent at CBS.

Capping off several weeks of ratings spikes and two nights of five-year highs, the telecast was obviously up. The star-filled goodbye averaged nearly 13.8 million viewers, with the show hitting its highest score since the Late Show's first season in 1994.

The Late Show drew a bigger crowd last night than any broadcast series did in primetime, the closest being the Survivor finale (9.4 million viewers). Compared to another notable late-night exit, Jay Leno's 2014 goodbye, Letterman came in shy by fewer than 1 million viewers.

The 3.1 rating with adults 18-49 was a 10-year high for Letterman, who hasn't brought in so many young viewers since a 2005 appearance by Oprah Winfrey.

One fellow benefiting a great deal from all of this is James Corden. The new Late Late Show host has been hitting series highs during his brief tenure so far, and Wednesday's telecast drew 4 million viewers. That's an all-time record for the show, for any host.