Dave vs. Jay: is the war over?

Based on David Letterman’s outstanding premiere week numbers, some buyers are ready to declare the late night wars over. Through the first three nights of overnight ratings available at press time, Dave averaged an 8.8 rating to Jay Leno’s 3.8. “Dave could take Jay on homes in the fourth quarter,” said one buyer.
CBS ratings guru Dave Poltrack said it was premature to predict a triumph over the Tonight Show, before Fox’s Chevy Chase Show launches and things settle down. “Where Chevy draws audience. from, Leno or Letterman, will determine what the configuration will be?”
Letterman’s demographic ratings were even better news for CBS. “They’ve found the holy grail,” sail Bob Silberberg, evp at Backer Spielvogel Bates. “We were concerned about. the young males because that has traditionally been the hardest audience segment for CBS to reach. But Letterman brought his core young male audience with him. In demographic ratings, of course, Dave walloped Jay because his household numbers were so much larger. A more telling demographic measure is viewers per viewing household. Against men 18-34, the VPVH was in the 280 to 290 range for Dave’s first three nights, even better than what Dave pulled in his old NBC slot. Jay started at a 180 in that demo and tailed off. The trend was repeated in men 18-49. Dave had a small VPVH advantage in women 18-34, but was fairly even with Jay in women 18-49.
Poltrack also noted what Letterman’s great Strength in urban markets is a bonus for the network. “Our network underperforms in our owned-and-operated markets. This show will reverse that trend and outperform our national rating in our O & O markets. That gives us a promotional platform and a lucrative spot market.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)