Nielsen: 13.76 million viewers for Letterman

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'Late Show' Garners Largest Audience For Letterman's Last Night

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.


Check out all of the celebrities who showed up to Letterman's final show:

25 PHOTOS
Photos from final Letterman show - Wednesday May 20 2015
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Nielsen: 13.76 million viewers for Letterman
Julia Louis Dreyfus arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Jim Carrey arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Jessica Seinfeld, left, and Jerry Seinfeld arrive for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Hilaria Baldwin and daughter Carmen Baldwin arrive for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Chris Rock arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
From left, Hilaria Baldwin, Carmen Baldwin and Alec Baldwin arrive for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Steve Martin arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Alec Baldwin arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Dave Grohl arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Barbara Walters arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Tina Fey arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Jessica Seinfeld, left, and Jerry Seinfeld arrive for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Paul Shaffer arrives for the last taping of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks at Late Show with David Letterman in New York City on May 18, 2015. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Eddie Vedder at Late Show with David Letterman in New York City on May 18, 2015. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Norah Jones visits the Late Show With David Letterman on May 6, 2015 in New York City. Credit: Diego Corredor/MediaPunch/IPX
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Radioman and Cher visit the Late Show With David Letterman on May 6, 2015 in New York City. Credit: Diego Corredor/MediaPunch/IPX
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: Rupert Jee of Hello Deli arrives at the final show for 'Late Show With David Letterman' on May 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: Peyton Manning arrives for the final episode of 'The Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on May 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: Rob Burnett departs 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on May 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 20: The Foo Fighters perform on the final broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman, Wednesday May 20, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. After 33 years in late night television, 6,028 broadcasts, nearly 20,000 total guest appearances, 16 Emmy Awards and more than 4,600 career Top Ten Lists, David Letterman says goodbye to late night television audiences. The show was taped Wednesday at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
Police and press wait outside The Ed Sullivan Theater during the last taping of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Fans wait outside The Ed Sullivan Theater during the last taping of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Fans wait outside The Ed Sullivan Theater during the last taping of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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