Nielsen said today that 13.76 million viewers saw David Letterman end his 33-year career as a latenight TV host with a final show Wednesday night. The last time Letterman had so many viewers was in February 1994, when his show aired after CBS’ telecast of the Winter Olympics.
Letterman presided over 6,028 broadcasts on CBS and NBC, the transplanted Hoosier making Top 10 lists and ironic humor staples of television comedy and an influence to a generation of performers. True to his self-deprecating style, he said Stephen Hawking estimated that tenure delivered “about eight minutes of laughter.”
David Letterman will close out his influential career on latenight television tonight with his 6,028th episode. He’s kept details of the final show a secret.
By now he’s done it all. David Letterman has carved a place in cultural history with his pioneering brand of postmodern silliness that collared Late Night fans on his arrival in 1982 and subsequently was absorbed into the Age of Irony he played a major role in charting.
Nielsen said Letterman’s CBS Late Show had more viewers last week than NBC’s Tonight show for the first time since Jimmy Fallon took over last year, with the exception of when Fallon’s show was in repeats.
CBS has lined up Tom Hanks as a replacement for embattled NBC News anchor Brian Williams for Thursday’s show. Williams’ move comes after he pulled himself off the anchor desk temporarily Saturday amid questions about his memories of war coverage in Iraq.
David Letterman will end his 32-year run as host of CBS’s Late Show on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Letterman, 67, announced his impending retirement last April. CBS later named Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central as Letterman’s replacement.