Worst Ratings Summer Ever for The Tonight Show Still Better Than David Letterman

leno_120.jpgGood news and bad news, Jay Leno haters. Ratings for The Tonight Show reached an all-time low in the advertiser coveted 18-49 demographic this summer, down 22 percent from the mark Conan O'Brien set a year ago. Hooray! Ready for the bad news? Leno still had more overall viewers than Conan did over the same time period last summer, and The Tonight Show still easily defeated The Late Show with David Letterman. The moral of the story: Late night television is doomed. [THR]


  • waitwhat says:

    so when you say "leno haters", you're talking about yourself? lol. why would you bother reporting on someone you hate? sounds like someone likes being miserable...

  • Christopher Rosen says:

    No, I mean Leno Haters. As in: People who hate Jay Leno and blindly bash him whenever they get the chance. In this case, that isn't me. This bit of news is a bigger indictment on Conan, Dave and the entire landscape of late night television than it is of Leno.

  • Few things:
    Leno was in repeats, where Conan (the same time last year) was new eps. Not really a fair comparision.
    Also, household numbers only matter on press releases, not to the advertisers.
    However, while I don't agree that late night is "doomed", I will say the traditional concept of NBC/CBS being the leader(s) is coming to an end. You have cable starting to really capture the younger audience. The pie is still there - it's just smaller pieces for everyone.

  • Sorry, Noah, but -coming from an advertising background (granted, MANY years ago)- I'm mystified by your statement, "household numbers only matter on press releases, not to the advertisers". Could you elaborate how that might work in the current ad market?

  • Absolutely. I too come from the advertising world (I worked in the sales department for 3 years at a TV station).
    tvbythenumbers and thefutoncritic have MUCH better (and elaborate) explanations - but I'll give it a go.
    Don't get me wrong - household numbers look GREAT on press releases. Any number looks great if it's big enough.
    However, the truth of the matter is advertisers want the A18-49 / A18-34 demo. In fact, if last season was an indication of where things are headed, it looks like advertisers are focusing more on A18-34. The concept is those demos have more buying power because they haven't completely developed brand loyalty yet. A18-49/A18-34 are considered to have more "buying power" not because they make more money (I see more old guys in sports cars than young'uns), but because their decision can have a long-term impact on brands.
    The older viewers have already determined what brands they will purchase, so advertisers aren't wanting to focus all their advertising dollars on someone who either will never buy their product, or already do.
    How this plays into the household (HH) demo is that - currently - the majority of that demo are the babyboomers (as well as the rest 54+ ). That's one of the reasons social security is going extinct, and why the healthcare industry is going from a billion dollar industry into a trillion dollar one.
    Despite being called "Movieline", this website typically does a good job of differentiating between HH and A18-49's importance. Entertainment Weekly, however, does not. They have a weekly installment of the "Top 20" shows - but that is HH.
    CBS boasts that it's the "Most Watched Network", yet they keep cutting shows that kill their (time period) competition in the HH demo. It's because - while they are truly the leader of households - they are trying to appeal to the younger demo (which they are struggling with).
    Hopefully that helps some. Like I said, those other resources probably have a better way of explaining - but if nothing else, this gives you the tip of the iceberg. Let me know!