Late Night Report

NBC and ABC are out with dueling press releases, each claiming the "win" last week for their 11:35 PM show. The politicos who inhabit Spin Alley after a presidential debate, declaring their guy the winner and denying the moments when he got bitch-slapped, have nothing on the folks who write these press releases about ratings.

Here's the bottom line. There are two main ways in which the numbers are measured for shows like this. One is overall viewers. In this regard, looking just at the four nights when Leno, Letterman and Kimmel were all on opposite each other, Leno averaged 3.526 million viewers, Letterman had 3.135 million and Kimmel had 3.017. So if you were NBC, you could cite those numbers and claim your boy Jay won the week.

But then there's the 18-49 age bracket, which is the one most advertisers want to reach. In most cases, it's way more important. In that category, Kimmel had 1.074 million, Leno had 1.064 million and Letterman had 846,000. So if you were ABC, you could point at those and crown Jimmy the King of Late Night, at least for those four days. Or if you were NBC, you could claim a big win on total viewers and a near-tie in 18-49 and argue for Jay.

If you weren't a TV network, you'd probably just say Jay and Jimmy were neck-and-neck with Dave in a respectable third place. The three 12:35 shows — Fallon, Ferguson and Nightline — were even closer.

Judging by the numbers for the previous three days, this week's ratings should come in around the same…though tomorrow night, Kimmel has a clip show made up of the best moments from earlier in the week. So who knows how that'll do? Next week, Jay has a pretty decent lineup of guests in all new shows, Jimmy has decent guests but a rerun on Monday, and Dave is in repeats all week.