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Late Night TV Battle: How Fallon, Kimmel and Letterman Season and Sweep Ratings Stack Up

TheWrap compares season-over-season and May sweep numbers across broadcast’s late night

Those who have been expecting Jimmy Fallon to flame-out in the new late night wars might want to pull up a chair, either because it could either be a long wait, or it’s time to join the majority party and watch the new “Tonight Show.”

The passing of the torch from Jay Leno to Fallon has not only kept “The Tonight Show” in first place, it has strongly extended its lead over the broadcast competition. Of course, the big gains at 11:35 p.m. on NBC this season are partially skewed from the inclusion of Leno’s strong farewell episodes and Fallon’s historic February debut shows.

Also read: The Highest-Rated Canceled Shows of 2013-14

But an analysis of the May sweep also shows strong gains year-to-year for “Tonight,” including a 48 percent jump in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic rating.

David Letterman‘s “Late Show” has dipped in both ratings and viewers throughout the season-to-date and during May sweep. Almost certainly the late-night legend has lost some viewers to the younger-skewing “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

CBS hopes that trend will turn around next year when Stephen Colbert takes over.

Also read: Don’t Blame Ratings for Kevin Reilly’s Departure: Fox Finished in Second, Flat Year-to-Year

Speaking of Kimmel, his show has seen double-digit percentage gains season-over-season, though this year is his first full season at 11:35 p.m.

In the May sweep, Kimmel earned more eyeballs but saw a ratings dip in the demo.

The late-night broadcast network shows should still air mostly originals through the summer, resulting in a new 52-week study to be released in September.

Also read: Nielsen Expanding Sample Sizes to Improve TV Ratings Data

Here are the comparisons for both season-over-season to-date and during the May sweep period: