In the three weeks that Jay Leno's overlapped with 's on a calendar week basis (2010 vs. 2009) he's finished behind .
When might Jay overtake's past ratings? if ever?
If Jay holds at the 0.9 adults 18-49he scored last week, he'd finish below 's ratings for the entire summer.
The folks dwelling on Leno beating Letterman (which he did again last week) miss the point that beating the competition is important only in press releases (and to sites like ours that focus on the horserace) not to the network's business.
What matters to NBC are a show's absolute ratings (and their trend) which correlate to its advertising potential. On that basis, NBC cares about the's current ratings and their trend (which is down vs. last year), not to Letterman's current ratings.
CBS, of course, cares about Letterman's ratings trend. On that basis, the fact that Dave had identical ratings to last summer for the last two weeks is pretty good in the broadcast television world where "flat is the new up".
In related news, ‘The Jay Leno Show’ Cancellation Payoff Is Complete.
The first chart shows the Leno/Conan ratings in the same sequential week of their run.
Conan/Letterman (2009-10) week 1 ended 6/5/09. Leno/Letterman (2010-) week 1 ended 3/5/10. The Conan/Letterman(2009-10) ratings do not include the final week thewas in repeats prior to the Winter Olympics.
The second chart aligns the ratings weeks for the shows to their calendar weeks.