Late Night ratings slip and slide


Ratings for Monday through Friday Network Late night programs have not recovered to the levels they had seen prior to the writers strike this season, according to Carat Programming.

On the key sales demographic of Adults 18-49, only CBS is close to its pre-strike viewing with Late Show with David Letterman and Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson within 3% of their ratings prior to the walkout (They excluded the week of 12/31 which had disruptions due to Bowl games and an artificial ratings spike when the talk shows first returned to first run).

NBC’s lineup is down 6-8%, although The Tonight Show with Jay Leno maintains its #1 status in the daypart.
ABC’s Nightline, which had enjoyed a brief ratings bump as it remained unaffected during the strike, is now down 10% and Jimmy Kimmel Live has plummeted by 17%.

Even more disturbing are the declines for season to date ratings versus last year, even when excluding rerun weeks caused by the writers strike. ABC’s Nightline and Kimmel are down 14% which is the lowest drop of any of
the shows. Most of the talk shows on CBS and NBC are down around 20%, with the exception of Last Call with Carson Daly, which is down 30% versus last year. The irony there is that Daly’s was the first show to return to the air without writers when the others remained dark, much to the consternation of the Writers Guild of America.

There’s some good news in all of this for advertisers. As Carat previously reported, most late night shows have had their commercial placement reformatted to earlier positions within each program. These positions are higher
rated and are a direct result of the industry’s move to average commercial minute ratings beginning with the current broadcast season. Even with the lower program ratings, the latest “C3” information confirms that advertisers are now receiving more representative viewing to their commercials because the networks are held financially accountable for it. Under the old system of average program ratings, the networks had been backloading ads into the later, lower rated portion of the shows.