In the second quarter of this year, the average total audience declined from 5 million viewers last year to 4 million viewers. This time last year featured a number of high-profile episodes, including an interview with President Barack Obama, Leno's final night and Conan O'Brien's debut as host.
The Tonight Show still beat David Letterman in the adults-18-to-49 demo, as well as in total audience. Late Show with David Letterman also dropped to its lowest audience totals since the show's first year on the air (1993), averaging 3.3 million viewers in the second quarter this year. Late Show was also topped by Nightline in total viewers for the first time since 2000, with Nightline averaging 3.7 million viewers.
When Leno returned to the Tonight Show desk in March, he attracted an impressive 6.6 million viewers. However, his second first night hosting was still 58 percent lower than O'Brien's ratings on his first night on the job in June of 2009.