Jon Stewart beats Jay Leno in key ratings demographic

By Sean O’Connell For the first time in 10 years, Jon Stewart has bested Jay Leno in the important 18-49 demographic for ratings, suggesting that a shift is occurring in late-night television programming toward Stewart’s cable hit “The Daily Show.”

It also shows how far Leno has fallen since returning to “The Tonight Show” after the Conan O’Brien controversy. Once the king of late night, Leno has seen his kingdom erode as viewers defect to Letterman, O’Brien and, now, Stewart.

Granted, it was a close second quarter. Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” pulled in an average of 1.295 million viewers while Leno’s program nabbed 1.292, according to THR.

But as the trade points out, the back-to-back pairing of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” “dominates with younger viewers and men,” finishing the quarter as “the top-rated late night shows on all of television among viewers 18-34 and men 18-34 and 18-24.”

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