Bill O’Reilly’s Ratings “About Tied” With Jay Leno? 3.8 & 5.4 Million Isn’t Equal

By Brian 

Bill O’Reilly must have been uncomfortable with Greta Van Susteren nipping at his heels this summer. Why else would he say this on Wednesday’s Factor?:

  It looks like the ‘The Factor’ will win this week in the cable news ratings war. More than a million viewers ahead thus far. And if that lead holds, we will have won the ratings race an amazing 200 weeks in a row.

Then O’Reilly proceeded to inaccurately describe his ratings:

  Now, to put ‘The Factor’s’ total audience, at 8 and 11 p.m. ET, in perspective, we are about tied with Jay Leno for viewers and far ahead of the other late-night programs.

“About tied?” No. For the week of August 15, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno averaged 5.4 million viewers. O’Reilly averaged ROUGHLY 2.6 million viewers at 8pm and ROUGHLY 1.2 million viewers at 11pm. That’s a total of less than 4 million for the week. Additionally, HUT levels are higher at 8pm than they are at 11:35pm.

Strangely enough, later in his comment, he admits that he isn’t tied with Jay: “We’re about two million viewers behind “The CBS Evening News,” and they have 20 percent more homes than we have. So does Leno. My goal is to get close to them, CBS News, next year.”

> Update: 5:57pm: “O’Reilly did not later admit Jay had more viewers, he was referring to the fact that Jay has access to 20% more homes when he said ‘So does Jay.’ So if you adjust for access, Jay would be 20% lower, or a drop from 5MM to 4MM — the same as O’Reilly.” Fair point — but networks don’t sell ads based on access to homes, so it’s still a fact that Leno has more viewers, despite lower HUT levels.