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Letterman gets ratings boost with retirement near

FILE - In this May 4, 2015 file photo, host David Letterman smiles during a break at a taping of "The Late Show with David Letterman," at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. After 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS' "Late Show," Letterman will retire on May 20. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — David Letterman’s imminent retirement is bringing nostalgic viewers back to check out his final shows.

The Nielsen company said Letterman’s CBS “Late Show” had more viewers last week than the “Tonight” show for the first time since Jimmy Fallon took over last year, with the exception of when Fallon’s show was in repeats.

Letterman averaged 3.82 million viewers each night last week, compared to Fallon’s 3.09 million and 2.23 million for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, Nielsen said. Kimmel has announced that he wouldn’t air a new show on May 20, the night Letterman makes his final late-night broadcast before retirement.

So far this television season, NBC’s “Tonight” show has averaged 3.96 million viewers, the “Late Show” has 2.83 million and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” has 2.72 million. The season numbers include time-shifted viewership within seven days, while last week’s numbers were for same-day viewership.

CBS announced Thursday that actor Tom Hanks and musician Eddie Vedder will be on Letterman’s show on May 18. Comic Bill Murray, a frequent Letterman foil, will be on Tuesday’s show.

CBS promised “surprises, memorable highlights and the show’s final Top Ten list” for Letterman’s final show, but announced no guests.

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