NEW YORK, N.Y. – Comic celebrities turned out for David Letterman’s late-night farewell — and so did his biggest audience in more than 21 years.
The Nielsen company said Thursday that 13.76 million viewers saw Letterman end his 33-year career as a late-night 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.
More people watched Letterman than anything else in prime time on Wednesday night. Letterman’s final show started at 11:35 p.m. and lasted more than an hour as CBS let it run long.
The show featured a final Top Ten list with celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Barbara Walters and Peyton Manning with “things I’d like to say to Dave.” Letterman is being replaced in September by Stephen Colbert.
Jay Leno’s farewell last February was seen by 14.6 million viewers. Both exits couldn’t come close to Johnny Carson’s final show, which attracted 41.14 million viewers in 1992, a different television era.
Letterman’s showing helped the “Late Late Show” with James Corden that followed him. The “Late Late Show” had its largest audience ever, with 4 million viewers, either for Corden or predecessor Craig Ferguson.