The biggest late-night talk TV show among key viewers that advertisers want most isn't on broadcast -- it's on cable, at least for the second quarter of 2011.
A trend that started a few months ago places Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" just over NBC's "The Tonight Show" among 18-49 viewers, the perennial leader for many years.
The second-quarter average for "Jon Stewart" in 18-49 viewers, according to Nielsen, was higher than "Tonight" -- pulling in 1.295 million to NBC talker at 1.292 million. It had a bigger advantage over the second-biggest late-night broadcast show, CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," which pulled in 1.095 million 18-49 viewers.
Comedy Central says this breaks a 40-quarter consecutive string of wins by "The Tonight Show" -- back to the year 2000 -- as the number on talk show among 18-49 viewers.
Moreover, Stewart was No. 1 among adults 18-34, adults 18-24, men 18-34 and men 18-24 in looking at all broadcast and cable late-night talk shows. "The Daily Show" grew 9% in total viewers, 7% in 18-49, and 4% in 18-34 versus the second quarter of 2010. Increasingly, Stewart has had a lot of visible promotional/PR time on other networks -- especially cable news networks -- due to his ongoing battles, especially with on-air personalities of Fox News. He has enjoyed a lot of regular screen time from video clips of his comedic bent on the news on MSNBC, among others.
"The Daily Show" still lags behind several other broadcast shows when it comes to overall average viewers.
For example, for its most recent season-to-date ratings, "The Tonight Show" had 3.9 million viewers, with "Late Show" at 3.5 million. For the second quarter, "Daily Show" averaged 2.2 million. Overall, the late-night viewer winner is ABC's "Nightline" at 4.0 million viewers.
Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" works in the same arena as Stewart. For the period, his show was up 5% to 960,000 18-49 viewers (in fourth place overall) with a 6% gain to 1.5 million total viewers.
Among other late-night-talk cable shows, TBS' "Conan" is in third place among all viewers at 1.039 million and in third place among 18-49 viewers at 748,000.