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ABC’s Nightline has garnered excellent TV kick-off week ratings. The show is up 7% compared to last year’s viewership in the same time period. However, that’s not why ABC should be patting themselves on the back. ABC should be patting themselves on the back because, for the first time ever, Nightline has beat out both The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the Late Show With David Letterman to be king of the ratings in their time slot. Doing Ted Koppel proud, guys.
The mantle may have been passed on to Nightline after both late night talk shows posted lower ratings. According to The New York Times, Letterman is suffering the most in the ratings losses, posting a loss of over a half million viewers, or roughly 15% of his audience from last year’s TV kick-off week. Comparatively, Leno is only down 4% from last year; but it was enough to bump Nightline into The Tonight Show’s spot.
Another reason Nightline could be up is because ABC’s late night talk program Jimmy Kimmel Live follows the news show. Kimmel’s late late status doesn’t always win him the largest audience, but he tends to crush in the 18-49 demographic. The 18-49 demographic is where Letterman and Leno suffer most. The ratings spike might equate to people choosing to catch Nightline rather than channel surfing before Jimmy Kimmel Live starts.
Plus, there’s always the chance people are just getting more jazzed about Bill Weir. Either way, NBC and CBS need to step up their respective games if they have any hope of bouncing back from Nightline’s small, but respectable ass whupping.