Fittingly, David Letterman’s finale was last night’s top-rated show and won the highest viewership it’s had since Oprah appeared as a guest in 2005. The Late Show snagged a 9.3 rating, more than four times its 2.2 average for the year. On the Web, however, the Top 2 benefactors of the funnyman’s farewell were Taco Bell and, ironically, a frequent butt of his jokes, the Church of Scientology.
Cross-channel brand intelligence provider Amobee scanned the “most seen” digital content associated with the Letterman finale and registered a 444% increase in digital consumption for Scientology and a 103% lift for Taco Bell. Amobee based its results on the monitoring of mentions over some 600,000 online, mobile, and social sites, comparing results on May 21 to May 20.
Taco Bell was the beneficiary of Letterman’s choosing to air a 1996 clip of himself manning the drive-through window at one of the chain’s New Jersey locations, in which he insults customers by making them speak really slowly and demanding they order lunch for him, too.
Letterman also joked during last night’s show that he planned to go on to become the face of Scientology. As it happened, Scientology had decided to run a spot from its current membership campaign during the show, creating a double whammy of digital activity for the church. Twitter mentions of Scientology increased by 633% last night compared to Tuesday night’s airing.
In all, more than 200,000 Letterman-related Tweets were sent during the 24 hours leading up to and including the finale. Overall digital consumption surrounding Letterman tripled between Feburary 21 and May 21, according to Amobee. Here are Amobee’s rankings of late night hosts’ digital peaks during that time period:
1. David Letterman, May 21 (Day After Final Episode)
2. David Letterman, May 20 (Day of Final Episode)
3. Jimmy Kimmel, May 3 (Pacquiao/Mayweather Fight)
4. Trevor Noah, March 30 (Announced As New Daily Show Host)
5. James Corden, May 15 (One Direction Appearance)
6. Jimmy Kimmel, March 13 (Obama Reads Mean Tweets)
7. David Letterman, May 19 (Penultimate Episode Airs)