Nellie Andreeva

Chalk two up for the underdogs. True, full 52-week season rankings are pretty meaningless because they include the summer off-season numbers that are dragged down by repeats. But Nielsen keeps track of them and just released the data for the official 2009-2010 season which ended Sunday. So Judge Judy topped Oprah in daytime. And ABC’s Nightline beat both CBS’ The Late Show With David Letterman and NBC’s The Tonight Show which switched hosts mid-season. Judy Sheindlin averaged 6.3 million viewers to Oprah Winfrey’s 5.7 million, but Oprah’s average includes far more repeats. Ditto for Leno/Conan and especially Letterman against Nightline, which was  almost always first-run. Still, this is the first full season victory for Nightline, which averaged 3.7 million viewers, followed by The Late Show (3.6 millon) and The Tonight Show (3.5 million average for the franchise, including The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). But in demos, which actually matter, The Tonight Show was No.1. And since Leno’s return to The Tonight Show, it has been No.1 in total viewers too, beating Nightline.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.