David Letterman Begins Week With Win Over Jay Leno

Remember how the storyline when Conan O’Brien hosted the Tonight Show was that he could win in the younger demographics but would lose in total viewers?

Well, after a first week back of big ratings and victories over CBS, Jay Leno and the new old Tonight Show lost to David Letterman in the demos Monday night.

TVByTheNumbers reports Letterman began the week on Monday with victories over Leno in the A18-49 demo as well as in the A25-54. Leno still won in total viewers (4.36 million to 4.19 million).

James Hibberd of THRFeed gave this explanation:

So why the upset? Lead-in! CBS won Monday night primetime, NBC was a distant fourth place with the likes of “Trauma” and “Law & Order.”

Oh interesting – lead-in caused the loss! Sounds like Leno is getting a little taste of his own medicine.

It doesn’t appear to be a case of winning guests – Leno had Simon Cowell and Letterman had Kelly Ripa, cross network visits that appear to cancel each other out. Instead, this exposes what may become a storyline down the road: Leno’s former Tonight Show viewers have not yet found their way back to the program. It shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on the audience’s opinions on how the Conan/Leno situation shook out, but simply a matter of waiting until the old NBC viewership finds its way home. Or not. But it’s a slow start for Leno so far.

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