It took almost two years, but it can now truly be said that Jay Leno and David Letterman are running neck and neck.
According to preliminary Nielsen statistics for last week, Leno’s “Tonight” show on NBC outrated Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS for the second consecutive week.
Should the numbers hold up and Leno get the win, it would be the NBC program’s fourth win or tie for the top spot in the past six weeks.
For the week, Leno posted a 4.8 rating (percentage of the nation’s 95.4 million TV homes) and a 14 share (percentage of the sets in use), to Letterman’s 4.7 rating/14 share.
Leno and Letterman now appear to be on equal Nielsen footage.
Letterman’s “Late Show” debuted in August 1993 and immediately took command of the ratings race against “Tonight.” While the NBC show occasionally put up a challenge, Leno’s first Nielsen win didn’t come until the week of July 10, thanks to the heady results from the muchanticipated appearance of tarnished actor Hugh Grant.
Since then, the show has won three weeks (counting last week) and tied for first on another.