Letterman draws big ratings for retirement announcement

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Saying goodbye is sad, poignant — and quite popular. As we’ve seen before, a late-night host going into his final lap tends to grow his numbers. We all like something a little more when we know it’s going away. Case in point: David Letterman jumped to his biggest rating in a couple years Thursday night for his retirement announcement.

CBS’ Late Show had a 3.2 overnight household rating, its biggest return since 2012. By comparison, NBC’s Tonight Show and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live both had a 2.4. Overlooked in all the initial conversation about Letterman’s departure is how CBS is likely going to be able to boost the host’s numbers (and smack rivals) as Letterman’s final episode approaches in 2015 — just as Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien enjoyed strong runs as they approached stepping down at NBC.

Also last night in the prime-time ratings: The return of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory easily won the night while freshman The Millers jumped 21 percent from its last original. ABC’s Scandal was down this week to tie its season low. NBC’s Community fell 18 percent to hit a new series low. Fox’s shows were down, but the network was preempted in some markets.

Full prime-time chart:

NET/TIME/SHOW  18-49 rating  total viewers (+000)
FOX 8-9P HELL KTCHN- 1.7 4,896
9:00P AM IDOL-TH- 1.8 7,721
9:30P SURVIVING- 1.2 4,490
ABC 8-9P ONCE-WNDLD- 0.9 3,238
9-10P GREY ANTMY- 2.6 7,978
10-11P SCANDAL- 2.8 8,839
CBS 8:00P BIG BANG- 4.8 17,391
8:30P MILLERS- 2.9 11,431
9:00P TWO&HLF MN- 2.5 9,371
9:30P CRAZY ONES- 1.8 6,467
10-11P ELEMENTARY- 1.6 7,793
NBC 8:00P COMMUNITY- 0.9 2,583
8:30P PARK & REC- 1.1 2,688
9-10P HLLYWD GME- 1.1 3,092
10-11P PARENTHOOD- 1.2 3,734
CW 8-9P VAMPIRE DRS- R 0.3 870
9-10P REIGN- R 0.3 866

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