David Letterman’s Final Show Draws Biggest Audience in Over 20 Years

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Photo: CBS/Getty

David Letterman ended his three-decade run in late night with his biggest audience in over 20 years. The final supersize edition of his Late Show averaged an estimated 13.76 million viewers, according to preliminary national Nielsen data. It was the most-watched broadcast on TV Wednesday, beating everything in prime time. Among adults 18 to 49, the last Dave-hosted Late Show notched a 3.1 rating. Letterman fell short of matching the record mark he set in 1994, when a post-Olympics episode of his CBS program drew 15.5 million viewers. Finally, because it wouldn’t be a Letterman story without some mention of Jay Leno: Dave’s exit didn’t beat the NBC host’s second good-bye to The Tonight Show, which drew 14.6 million viewers and a 3.8 among viewers under 50 in February 2014. (Jay had a big advantage, since his farewell aired on a night when NBC aired some early Olympics coverage, boosting the Peacock’s audience dramatically versus a typical night.)