MEDIA
11/23/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tuesday Night Ratings Shockers: MSNBC Wins Demo, "Nightline" Tops Leno, Letterman

Update: Wednesday ratings return to normalcy, Fox News wins total viewers and demo

Tuesday night brought two ratings shockers, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter's Paul J. Gough: MSNBC topped Fox News and CNN in the advertiser-coveted Adults 25-54 demographic, and Hillary Clinton lifted "Nightline" to first place ahead of Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" and David Letterman's "Late Show."

Gough reports that MSNBC averaged 786,000 viewers in the demo, to CNN's 710,000 and Fox News' 672,000, and that "Countdown" had its best ratings for a regular show ever:

"Countdown With Keith Olbermann" had its best ratings for a regular show ever, in first place in the demo and second place to "The O'Reilly Factor" in viewership. "Countdown" averaged 935,000 viewers in the demo with "The O'Reilly Factor" averaging 742,000 and CNN's "Election Center" averaged 583,000. "The O'Reilly Factor" had 3.4 million viewers to "Countdown's" 2.2 million and "Election Center's" 1.5 million.

Meanwhile, "The Rachel Maddow Show" was in second place in viewership against "Hannity & Colmes" but in first place in adults 25-54, as was the Chris Matthews-hosted "Hardball" against "The Fox Report" at 7 p.m.

Later in the night, in the 11:30 PM time slot, "Nightline" accomplished a rare feat, besting the "Tonight Show." From Gough's report:

"Nightline" averaged a 3.5 overnight household rating/8 share in the metered markets, Nielsen Media Research said Wednesday afternoon. That beat both "Tonight" and "Late Show," which each averaged a 3.4/9.

While it's relatively common for "Nightline" to beat "The Late Show With David Letterman," winning against "The Tonight Show" is still pretty rare. One recent time happened on May 20, when "Nightline" had coverage of the Oregon primary as well as news of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's brain tumor.

Update: Wednesday ratings return to normalcy, Fox News wins total viewers and demo