Jon Stewart Tops Jay Leno in Coveted Demographic

by | July 1, 2011 at 8:14 AM | TV News

'The Daily Show' host Jon Stewart addressed the Rick Sanchez controversy.  (Comedy Central)

'(Comedy Central)

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Jon Stewart has unseated Jay Leno to take the late-night ratings crown in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic during the second quarter.

It is the first time in ten years — or 40 consecutive quarters — that NBC’s “The Tonight Show” has not won the closely watched race. Advertisers pay a premium to reach viewers in this elusive age range.

Stewart’s margin was slim, though: “The Daily Show” averaged 1.295 million viewers among adults 18-49 compared to Leno’s 1.292 million. CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” pulled in 1.096 million.

Watch Thursday’s “Daily Show”:

Comedy Central’s one-two punch of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” also finished the quarter as the top-rated late-night shows on all of television among viewers aged 18-34 as well as male viewers (18-34 and 18-24).

“The Daily Show” averaged 2.2 million total viewers, up 9 percent quarter-over-quarter. “The Colbert Report” averaged 1.5 million total viewers with 960,000 in the demo, marking gains of 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

It is quite an achievement for Comedy Central; the network’s late-night franchises have been popular with younger viewers, but the 18-49 crown has remained elusive as broadcast late-night shows routinely pull in larger overall audiences.

Additionally, TBS’ “Conan” took the third spot among cable late-night talkers for the quarter. But Conan O’Brien’s show was overtaken in June by Chelsea Handler’s E! show “Chelsea Lately,” which edged him out among total viewers (959,000 vs. 851,000) and the 18-49 and 18-34 demos. It is the first time since its premiere last November, that “Conan” has dropped below 1 million viewers.