David Letterman’s Finale Was Watched by 13.8 Million, His Largest Audience Since 1994

Here's how it compared to other late-night farewells

David Letterman's final Late Show was watched by 13.76 million viewers, making it the Late Show's largest audience since Feb. 25, 1994, on a night that saw CBS' coverage of the Lillehammer Olympics.

The finale had his best delivery in the adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 demos since Dec. 1, 2005—the night of Oprah Winfrey's much-anticipated appearance. The final Letterman Late Show, which ran 80 minutes, also gave a boost to The Late Late Show with James Corden—it had its largest audience ever, despite starting 20 minutes late. As for how Letterman's final bow compares to previous late-night farewells:

  • Johnny Carson's Tonight Show finale | May 22, 1992: 41.36 million
  • Jay Leno's second Tonight Show finale | Feb. 26, 2014: 14.63 million
  • Jay Leno's first Tonight Show finale | May 29, 2009: 11.9 million
  • Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show finale | Jan. 22, 2010: 10.34 million

The Letterman finale also gave a boost to several brands, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence analysis. Taco Bell saw digital consumption increase 103 percent in a day, while The Church of Scientology saw a consumption increase of 444 percent.

On the finale, Letterman re-aired a 1996 sketch in which he pranked people working at a Taco Bell drive-thru. Also, Letterman joked during his final monologue that his new job was going to be as the new face of Scientology. As it turned out, the church advertised later in the show.