Sir Paul McCartney helps Dave beat Conan


CBS is celebrating the largest weekly win in viewers by “The Late Show” over NBC’s “Tonight Show” since 2000. And the gap narrowed in 18-49 as well. And all that was before this week’s appearance by Sir Paul McCartney, which gave David Letterman a ratings spike over Conan O’Brien.

For the week ended July 10th, CBS said the “Late Show” beat “The Tonight Show” in households (2.6/07 vs. 2.0/05, +30%) and viewers (3.68m vs. 2.82m, +30%).  It was Late Show’s largest margin of victory against an all first-run week of Tonight Show broadcasts in both households and viewers since the week ending Feb. 25, 2000 (the week David Letterman returned from heart surgery).

CBS noted that Late Show has also closed the gap with The Tonight Show in adults 25-54 (1.2/05) to a tie, CBS’s closest competitive position since the week ending Dec. 2, 2005 (the week Oprah Winfrey appeared). 

NBC still won the big money 18-49 demo, but CBS said in adults 18-49 (0.8/04 vs. 1.1/05), Late Show continued to cut The Tonight Show’s lead:  -1.4 in Conan O’Brien’s premiere week, -0.6 in the week ending June 12, -0.5 in the week ending June 19 and -0.3 in the week ending July 10.

Wednesday night’s broadcast, featuring Sir Paul McCartney, making his return to The Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show is taped, topped “The Tonight Show” by its largest margin since Oct. 16, 2008 (Sen. John McCain’s appearance), CBS said, based on overnight data from Nielsen’s metered markets.