Feature

Why David Letterman beat Conan O'Brien

And what his ratings win could mean for the future of late-night TV

"There could be a new king emerging in late-night television," said David Bauder in the Associated Press. David Letterman's CBS Late Show "whipped" NBC's Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien "in the ratings last week by nearly 800,000 viewers." Letterman generally used to lose to The Tonight Show "when Jay Leno was the host, and he hasn't had this big a victory margin since returning from heart surgery in 2000."

This "continues a roll for a resurgent Letterman," said David Zurawik in The Baltimore Sun, "and a troubling downward slide for NBC's Tonight Show since Conan O'Brien took over from Jay Leno." But to be fair, Letterman did have former Beatle Paul McCartney on his show Wednesday (watch), which hauled in an astounding "4.4 million viewers." And Conan is still pulling in more young viewers, which is what advertisers are primarily interested in.

Still, it even "seems like O'Brien's supposed fortress of support within Gen X and Gen Y circles" is "eroding with every passing week," said Mark Graham in New York magazine. But we won't really know how all of this will shake out until "Jay Leno comes back into the NBC fray in mid-September" at the 10 p.m. slot, and "we don't anticipate anyone over at NBC hitting the panic switch and making any rash moves until the end of the year."

Recommended

The daily gossip: June 17, 2021
Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 17, 2021

Catherine Zeta-Jones flaunts her zucchinis
Stupendous courgettes
How 'bout them courgettes?

Catherine Zeta-Jones flaunts her zucchinis

The daily gossip: June 16, 2021
Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 16, 2021

The daily gossip: June 15, 2021
Zoe Kravitz.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 15, 2021

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now

Late night hosts pan Marjorie Taylor Greene's Holocaust apology
Trevor Noah
Last Night on Late Night

Late night hosts pan Marjorie Taylor Greene's Holocaust apology