Was The Writers Strike Letterman’s Last Chance To Eclipse Leno?


The WGA strike barely affected the ratings of late night talk shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. That’s not good news for David Letterman, who had the advantage of writers, in his late night competition against his nemesis, Jay Leno. According to the AP’s David Bauder:

”The most intriguing late-night duel — David Letterman returning with his writers, and Jay Leno without — didn’t change the status quo much, either.

”’The audience made the decision of which of the two hosts they wanted to watch,’ said Rick Ludwin, chief of late-night programming at NBC. ‘They made the decision 13 years ago.’

”Leno’s ‘Tonight’ show has averaged 5.17 million viewers since his return, up from the pre-strike average of 5 million. Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ on CBS increased from 3.8 million pre-strike to 4.05 million after he went back on the air after the new year. In general, viewership tends to go up for these shows during winter.

”For Letterman, it undoubtedly represented his last, best chance to eclipse Leno, who relinquishes the ‘Tonight’ show chair to Conan O’Brien next year.”

David Letterman’s production company World Wide Pants reached a deal with the WGA two months into the strike that ultimately lasted more than three months.

(image via amazon)