Ain't It Cool News (

LETTERMAN Beats LENO In Adults 18-49 During November Sweeps!! First Time In 17 Years!!

 I am – Hercules!!

My theory is Leno (who continues to beat Letterman in overall – which is to say elderly – viewers) simply saw a lot of his viewers turn 50 this year, knocking them out of the key 18-49 demo.

I’d call for the firing of the execs who chose Jay Leno over Conan O’Brien – if those execs weren’t dismissed by NBC’s parent company mere months after O’Brien was.

What’s missing from Deadline’s story on the matter is any mention of “Nightline,” which continues to beat both Leno and Letterman in the key demo.

Find all of Deadline’s story on the matter here.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:20 p.m. CST


    by puby

    Is Conan in any danger of being canceled?

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Craig Ferguson is the best late night host

    by thelordofhell


  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:29 p.m. CST


    by thelordofhell

    TBS is all in on a 2nd season of Conan. They have yet to negotiate on a 3rd season.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 10:29 p.m. CST

    The simple fact is that NBC ain't what it used to be

    by k88dad

    Leno is not funny, but his ratings reflect NBC's great recession. Letterman benefits from CBS's highly-rated lineup. All the remote controls and DVRs in the world can't change that. I still watch Letterman, but Craig and Geoff are the funniest thing on late night.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:05 p.m. CST

    Where is chrisssssm

    by NathanGrey

    To tell us how great Jay is and that Sarah Palin will be our next president.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:33 p.m. CST

    conan isn't exactly holding his own

    by FrodoFraggins

    he would have been better off waiting for fox to take the timeslot back from the affiliates

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Scottish Conan Guy

    by Truxton Spangler

    Used to be worthy of the "best" title. Since then, he's devolved into constant silliness and "wink, nudge" humor, though he's capable of doing much better. The Paris shows were an oddly fascinating experiment that shows bits of his serious side exist, but they only make rare appearances now. Leno/Letterman/Conan -- who cares? All have their own loyal audiences, and all plug the same stuff. If it's humor you're looking for, I'd argue that Kimmel is doing the best bits in that time slot, and Fallon isn't bad either. Frankly, I just DVR the shows with good guests now and mostly watch only the interview segments.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:39 p.m. CST

    Agreed that Craig is the best in network late night

    by SifoDyasJr

    But if you include cable, Stephen and Jon deserve the top two spots.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 12:09 a.m. CST

    I can't believe the best late Night Show is Fallon...

    by MST3KPIMP

    and if you had told me a year ago I'd say that and mean it I would have scoffed. But seriously. Letterman, Leno and Kimmel are basically on auto-pilot and have gotten lamer with each year going through the motions of topical comedy. While Fallon is'nt "funny" and does "alot" of weak bits there is an energy that the other shows lack. When he's talking to Higgins and launches into an impromptu song with the Roots helping it makes for great T.V. He is a master impersonator and his Neil Young, Dylan and Morrison performances are nearly classic. I like how he engages the audience and gets them involved with contests. And the Roots attract a robust array of musical acts and always have great collaborations. Of course I'd rather watch 80's era Letterman but right now Fallon is the talk show I look most forward to.

  • Or more to the point, don't! I've hated Leno for years, had to sit through all his crap just to get to Conan. Once he screwed Conan out of his job, I boycotted, and still do, anything that filthy Leno ever put his hands on. That said, I have to agree with whoever said that of the current group Craig Ferguson is the best. All the rest of them have gotten stale. And for as good as The Roots are, Fallon is awful. That whole "history of rap" thing he does with Justin Timberlake? Overrated. The Neil Young thing was funny the first time...the first time Carson did it as Willie Nelson, the thank you letters is old like Kimmel's This week in unnecessary censorship, and one of the worst interviewers ever! He makes Chelsea Handler look good, and she's in a drug induced state for half the show. At least Fallon dropped those lame theme shows. Seriously, who cares about the Saved By the Bell cast? Isn't that reunion crap why TV-Land is forcefully applied to my channel list by Dish Network? All bets are off if Kevin Smith gets in the game. If the talk is true about him getting a late night chat show on Comedy Central are true, I'm there!

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 4:17 a.m. CST

    It took 17 years?????

    by FlandersBum

    Really? Better late than never I suppose. Hopefully this will improve Letterman's overall grouchy mood somewhat.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 5:22 a.m. CST

    I miss Arsenio

    by Titus05

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 10:31 a.m. CST

    "I miss Arsenio?"

    by UserIDGoesHere

    Hall or Billingham?

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 5:01 p.m. CST


    by Secretagentnumber6

    Fallon is absolutely the best. I was shocked when they announced he was taking over for Conan, but now over 550 shows later I realize that while he was completely useless on SNL because he could not hold a bit for nothing without laughing, this format is perfect for him. You are completely right about the energy, it is the best part of it, and for every weak bit he has, he has a very strong one. It also amazes me at the guests he attracts, while Leno has the Jersey Shore case, Fallon will have Oscar Winners and huge stars. Fallon is the best by a long shot, I was never a Letterman fan and Leno is weak since his return, and basically before.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 5:53 p.m. CST

    Herc...are you obsessed with Leno-hate?

    by Chris Moody

    Geez. The guy has led the ratings for nearly two decades. You only get excited in the few instances where Letterman leads by minuscule margins. Your bias is apparent and your credibility is very much in question. *BTW -- Please don't ban me again for calling you out on this. I don't mean to hurt your feelings. Just saying.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 5:56 p.m. CST

    @ nathangrey:

    by Chris Moody

    Many people like Leno. I just happen to be one of them...although I don't watch him very often. I think that he can be funny. The same is true with all of the late night comedians. They have their moments. I just don't think that Letterman is nearly as funny as some people pretend. And, of course, I am NOT a fan of Sarah Palin. I would never vote for the woman. I just couldn't understand Herc's obsession with her. He spent plenty of articles ridiculing the woman based upon DNC talking points and then claiming that he was a Republican. So...try again?

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 5:59 p.m. CST

    @ puby :

    by Chris Moody

    Conan's overall ratings has been consistently lower than Leno's 18-49 demographic. His show is expensive to produce. I suspect that Conan will opt out of another contract and try to move on to somewhere else.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Conan is on basic cable, of course his ratings are lower

    by glenn_the_frog

    They never expected them to match the major networks. For TBS, he's doing great and providing a consistent nightly draw to the channel, which is exactly what they wanted.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Kimmel is the best show of the late night talk shows...

    by ShelbKis

    And has been since his very first show. He's doing things no one else is doing and he's constantly funnier than the other hosts. He's the third man in a three man race (Conan took himself out by moving to TBS of all places) so he doesn't always get the best guests, so he has to find ways to make up for it and it brings out the creativity in ways guys like Leno and Letterman don't care to anymore. The Late-Late shows (Jimmy and Craig) are both great but limited IMO. Daily Show and Colbert aren't talk shows or else they'd get the nod from me as the best on the air.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 11:06 p.m. CST

    I love Craig Ferguson but I miss old Dave

    by GeneralKael

    He reminds me of when Dave had Late Night - it was on later, and you never really knew what the heck was going to happen next(the two funniest bits I remember in those years is the Rockettes bringing Dave a Coke - handed to one after another like a bucket brigade up the stairways and down the halls, with them kicking no less, and then a kicking line of five or six of them coming on stage to give him the drink - all started by Dave musing "I feel like a nice cold beverage..." the other bit was when one of the stagehands asked if Tony Randall was on the show and Dave said no and the stagehand(Biff I think) went out and opens the side door and says "Sorry" to Tony Randall, who is not seen again in the episode - classic. I dunno - I like Craig but I miss old late night Dave.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 11:47 p.m. CST

    Stewart & Colbert...Have the best writers on television.

    by Cheif Brody

    Conan use to. Not so much anymore. I sometimes literally forget he has a show on anymore. <p> Jon & Stephen are smart to not even try to vie for the same calibre guests Leno & Dave command...instead, interviewing authors, pundits and politicians most of the time. I'd rather watch someone ramble on about their book about the collapse of the housing market than watch Kristin Stewart prattle on about her Twilight movie with her stupid, uncomfortable mannerisms and overly nervous facial tics. <p> The two Jimmy's and Ferguson are all about equal with the comedy schtick. Fallon seems to be taking cues from daytime's Ellen with all the ridiculous games he plays with the studio audience. Taboo...Charades, anyone? I'd prefer more interaction with Higgins...about as much or more as Conan & Richter have. Higgins is sharp as a tack. <p> Overall, I have no real preference in the late night game. It depends on who's NEW and who's a repeat. Who's got a hot chick on...or just some dude. If they're all in repeats I check out Daily Show & Colbert. If they're all new, it really boils down to who has the better guests that night. Sometimes I watch half of one and switch over and watch the second guest of the competitor. <p> Bottom line...Jay's to cherry and tryin too hard... Dave seems like he's rather be somewhere else...Kimmel can't get the A list guests....Fallon needs to stop watchin Ellen...and Ferguson needs to start drinkin again.

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 8:15 a.m. CST

    I miss hungry Conan...

    by Billyeveryteen

    Haven't seen much of the TBS show,(Steve and Jon own my ass) but when I have it just feels... Sad.

  • This obsession you have with Leno is bordering on creepy at this point...

  • Anyway, Letterman would have to beat Leno for the next 18 straight years to be considered having beat Leno. Leno was the King of this era of Late Night, hands down. He beat Letterman 17 years to 2 years. It wasn't even close. He kicked Letterman's ass. It doesn't matter if Letterman gets a couple of late touchdowns now, Leno dominated him for 2 decades...

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 7:56 p.m. CST

    That's right coughlin, almost two decades of suck.

    by colonies

    Sad statement about our society.

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 8:01 p.m. CST

    mst3kpimp is right

    by Tony W

    I hated Fallon at first. But I also hated other shows that started out slow and got better. I've always been a Letterman fan and Conan in the 12:30 slot. Now my favorite is Fallon then Letterman. I don't watch Conan anymore. Fallon's show does have a spark that no one else has. I think he is funny. The dude is extremely talented. So what happens when Leno drops off? Is Fallon sliding into the 11:37 slot? I hope so as long as they don't fucking change anything. The set is fine the way it is.

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Agreed Chief brody...

    by K-Gin

    I really enjoy the diversity in guests Colbert and Stewart have on their shows. Late night would be better if they had more authors and scientists on them enlightening people for even a few minutes. Besides the shows just being funny, I really look forward to the guests they have...even if I have never heard of them before. I do find myself sometimes looking for information on them afterwards.

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 11:05 p.m. CST

    I miss Joe Franklin

    by paulloch

    No band, no audience, no monologue, no sketches. Only 4-5 guests talking. A real TALK show. The ragtime theme song , always got me in the mood for the most diverse lineup of guests. John Updike with the shower singers, a young Barbara Steisand and a bunch of dogs. Woody Allen, and Bill Cosby would sometimes drop by when they were still cultural icons. The Ramones and some hack magician, and the guy who painted with toilet paper. You never knew (pre-internet) who might show up. Which was the absolute fun. All on a show with public-access production values. The perfect show for 1-2 am to fall asleep to before the national anthem.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 4:26 a.m. CST

    in the uk....

    by emeraldboy

    Parkinson was the undisputed king of the uk talk show. and when I say that he interview all the greats. he really effing did. His bbc shows of the 1970s are like a golden age of Chat. and there are very few uk chat show hosts who can say that they interviewed and had played live on tv. giants of Jazz age people like oscar peterson and dizzy gillespie.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 4:32 a.m. CST

    here is moore of parky's

    by emeraldboy


  • Dec. 5, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST

    The funny thing about the Late Night debates...

    by Chris Moody that most Leno defenders aren't saying that the other comedians aren't funny. They just say that there is room in a free society for PREFERENCE. Loudmouth ideologues like to scream that their favorite (insert politician/political party/late night comedian/television show/movie/soft drink/sports team/social views/religious views, etc...) is the only one that matters. While they are certainly entitled to their strong opinions, it is a display of rancid whining when they act as if their views are the only ones that matter and then proceed to spit upon everyone else with a different view, preference or perspective. The numbers don't lie. Jay Leno has led the ratings for the better part of two decades. Even in the little time that he was behind Letterman, his numbers were comparable. The anti-Leno critics said that Leno was doomed when he returned to THE TONIGHT SHOW. People argued that Conan + Letterman would crush him. At first, it looked like that might happen. For the first couple of weeks, Conan's "Coco" fan base were tuning in. Letterman's rating improved. Leno was being hit by pundits and bloggers from all sides. During his prime time show, Herc was posting on a daily basis about how washed up Leno had become. When he returned to TONIGHT, Herc showed the daily ratings with some gleeful smirk written between the lines. And then, Leno's ratings began to improve. Suddenly, the critics stopped pointing to the ratings as they spewed their drivel at Leno. They just returned to their tired, old "he's not funny" rhetoric. And, of course, Leno has remained at the top or, in this case, near the top in EVERY demographic. Meanwhile, Conan's ratings are dismal. The high ratings that he enjoyed in the first couple of weeks disappeared. His "Coco" fans just stopped tuning in. As a result, in a cost-saving move, TBS was forced to let poor ol' George Lopez go. The point? There are some people who prefer Leno, some who prefer Letterman and some who prefer Coco. And, of course, there are those of us who think that all three are funny in their own sort of way. However, it is ridiculous to spew hate upon someone just because of their preference. It is a vast display of arrogance to spew disdain on them simply because they are a MAJORITY who have a particular preference in a late night comedian or show. If there isn't room for diversity of opinion in a person's mind or attitude, then that person probably doesn't have many friends -- except for those who agree with him/her in every way or those who choose to stay agreeingly quiet about such things. But, of course, the arrogant usually don't realize how arrogant they are. They think that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Then, they are shocked when someone, something or some group that they don't like is more successful on a grand scale. As a result of their arrogance, they must then pretend that it is a reflection of "poor taste" from the majority. Go figure.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 11:39 a.m. CST

    HATE Leno, Letterman is too politically bent and the rest...

    by ZodNotGod

    Conan is still my boy. A lazy Conan is better than a "funny" Leno or "grouchy" Letterman these days. I used to worship Dave, wanted to be him, but his damn political humor and the overall lack of funny is too much to endure. Leno- we know how bad he sucks. "Found Humor" is not talented or clever. It just is. Kimmell- has zero personality. Just seems like a slow frat boy willing to do anything for a laugh, except its not really funny. Ferguson- Not watched enough to like or dislike. I did find his eulogy of his dead dad very moving and humane. As for the Women- Women are not funny.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 11:42 a.m. CST

    And NO Conan is NOT facing cancellation!

    by ZodNotGod

    I predict he will be there as long as he wants.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Leno continues to suck it.

    by ZodNotGod

    And of course it needs repeating. If you like Leno, you are sad. There is nothing funny, memorable, intelligent, innovative, interesting about the jerk. He is like humping a piano- ONE NOTE! Found humor is not clever, just lucky.

  • It frankly makes no sense. I really don't get it. And to see someone like Herc, who goes out of his way to try and "report" his lower ratings constantly and uses misleading headlines all the time, it's just funny. Why would he care either way? Is he friends with Letterman or Leno? Does he have a financial stake in this? No, of course not. He has no reason to be leading this campaign. In overall viewers, Leno has beaten Letterman EVERY SINGLE YEAR for 17 years. It's not a Late Night War. It's a Late Night Annihilation. It wasn't even close. Leno almost doubled Letterman's ratings for 2 straight decades, night in and night out. It's funny to those of us who don't have a stake in which millionaire former comic has a bigger audience to watch the constant personal insults hurled by the anti-Leno crowd. Herc, and others here, for the last 2 years, have viciously insulted Leno and every single person that watches him. Why, because comedy is subjective and some people have different tastes, but somehow these people think they have a more "advanced" sense of humor. So anyway, to sum up, enjoy your insult comic Letterman. Take pride in the fact that your favorite millionaire former comic has closed to within 200,000 viewers of Leno and finally got 30,000 more 18-49 year olds watching him. I'm sure your life will be better now...

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Good point, coughlins...

    by Chris Moody

    Like zodnotgod proves, the words "IN MY OPINION" (or something like them) are not in the vocabulary of chronic whiners. They look at someone like Leno, don't find him funny (or AS funny as their preferred comedic host) and then whine about how horrible he is and how anyone who watches him is an idiot. Can you imagine what life must be like for those people? If you go to a SUBWAY restaurant, they probably whine about your taste in a sandwich. "You like Steak and Cheese? How can you? Those are horrible sandwiches! Only losers like Steak and Cheese! That meat doesn't even taste good! You should eat the Cold Cut Trio. That is the best. The Chicken Bacon Club is good too, but Steak and Cheese? That is the sandwich of morons!" Then, someone informs the person that Steak and Cheese is one of SUBWAY'S best selling sandwiches. They reply, "Well, that just goes to prove how terrible Americans' taste buds have become." Of course, you could use this same fictional conversation to describe all sorts of discussions -- from comparisons of vehicle makes and models to your favorite science fiction film. It always ends the same. One person thinks that they hold a monopoly on taste and then whine about others not being "tolerant" of their views.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Leno, Letterman, Conan all tired hacks

    by Samuel Fulmer

    That need to retire.

  • Dec. 5, 2011, 5:38 p.m. CST

    coughlins laws-those of us who don't have a stake...

    by Billyeveryteen

    Yet you and ccchhhrrriiisssm post MANY, MANY times in EVERY Leno topic. What stake do you love birds HAVE, and why?

  • Dec. 6, 2011, 6:36 a.m. CST

    Leno stinks, here's why.

    by ZodNotGod

    I've never met anyone who liked Leno that had a great sense of humor. Doesn't mean anything I guess, just an observation. I used to work in tv during college, I was forced to watch his show, I grew to hate his unfunny, pedestrian, tired, toothless, safe, old fashion, mechanical "humor." Even my Grandmother hated him. I hate Leno because he is snake, a liar and an unfunny prick who insults his guests and can't even ask interesting, basic questions. He's boring. He is exactly what Donnie & Marie are to pop music. If you dig them... It's frustrating to see him remain on the air all these years. SOrry if I offended, I thought, at least with comedy, this crowd was more advanced.

  • Dec. 6, 2011, 6:39 a.m. CST

    RE: ccchhhrrriiisssmredux

    by ZodNotGod

    Remember those holier-than-thou words when a Star Wars thread pops up and you and the rest of the haters drop in and leave some a-hole remarks.