Dave dominates with debut

September 01, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Dave topped Ted, Jay and Arsenio in Baltimore and across the country Monday night. But local viewers seemed somewhat less curious about the new "Late Show With David Letterman" than viewers in some other cities.

The CBS premiere was the top-rated show in its time slot in Baltimore and in 29 other cities, according to A.C. Nielsen's overnight ratings for metered markets. (The show is seen in the ** Baltimore area on WNUV, Channel 54, because CBS affiliate WBAL, Channel 11, is sticking with "The Arsenio Hall Show" at 11:30 p.m.)

Many Baltimore viewers, however, showed a marked loyalty to Ted Koppel of ABC's "Nightline," as the comedian only narrowly edged out the late-night anchorman in the local Nielsen ratings. The news magazine's coverage of approaching Hurricane Emily ranked ahead of "Late Show" in Arbitron's overnight ratings.

Nationally, Letterman's show averaged a 13.4 rating and 34 share in Nielsen's 29 largest television markets. In Baltimore's overnight Nielsen numbers, it scored an 11.6 rating and 25 share. (The rating measures total viewers while the share estimates the percentage of viewers tuned to a particular show. In the metered markets, one ratings point equals about 476,600 homes; locally, about 16,000 homes.)

Those numbers translate to about 6.4 million homes in the metered markets and 107,000 Baltimore households watching "Late Show."

The ratings were high for late-night viewing, but not in comparison to this year's highest-rated prime-time show. The finale episode of "Cheers" in May drew a 45.5 rating and 64 share.

CBS crowed yesterday that the "Late Show" rating exceeded the highest viewership ever recorded when Mr. Letterman was with NBC. "Late Night With David Letterman" scored a 13.3 rating after Johnny Carson's final "Tonight" broadcast on May 22, 1992.

It also marked the highest rating for any CBS late-night show.

"We were thrilled with the show. It looked great and the viewers were happy," said Bruce Binenfeld, program manager of WNUV. "It is the premiere, but we do think it will continue to do well."

But "Nightline's" performance in Baltimore was also impressive, aided by the fact that Hurricane Emily poses a threat to Maryland.

The show recorded a 10.9 rating and 22 share, according to Nielsen estimates locally, well ahead of the rest of the 11:30 p.m. pack.

David Poltrack, senior CBS vice president for research and planning, said the Letterman premiere "exceeded our expectations," and suggested "based on historical patterns, the consistency and strength of 'Late Show's' performance is a very encouraging sign."

CBS estimated that 23 million people watched all or part of the program.

The show scored its highest view ership -- a 22.7 rating and 50 share -- in Minneapolis, and also rated particularly well in Portland, Ore., (16 rating and 49 share), San Francisco (17.6 rating and 42 share) and Phoenix (17.1 rating and 42 share).

The nation's biggest three cities also showed high viewership, including Chicago (19.2 rating and 35 share), New York (15.7 rating and 35 share) and Los Angeles (10.5 rating and 31 share).

And the network noted that in cities where "Late Show" was broadcast later, it also did well, such as in Dallas, where a half-hour delay still gave Mr. Letterman a 13.5 rating and 36 share compared to the "Tonight Show's" 11.5 rating and 23 share.

Late night's first battle

VLNational .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Rating .. .. .. .. .. .. Share

"Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS) .. .. .. .. 13.4 .. .. .. 34

"Nightline" (ABC) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6.3 .. .. .. .. .. ..15

"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC) .. .. .. .. 5.6 .. .. .. .. .. 14

"Arsenio" (syndicated) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2.5 .. .. .. .. .. 7

Baltimore

"Late Show" (WNUV, Channel 54) .. .. .. 11.6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 25

"Nightline" (WJZ, Channel 13) .. .. .. .. 10.9 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 22

"Arsenio" (WBAL, Channel 11) .. .. .. .. .. 6.1 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 14 "Cheers" (WBFF, Channel 45) .. .. .. .. .. .. 3.7 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 8 "Tonight" (WMAR, Channel 2) .. .. .. .. .. .. 3.5 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 8

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