Originally created 08/08/03

Schwarzenegger drives big audience to 'Tonight'



NEW YORK -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's announcement that he was running for governor of California drew the second-highest rating of the year for NBC's "Tonight" show, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.

Only Katie Couric's job switch with "Tonight" show host Jay Leno in May drew bigger numbers in Nielsen's overnight sample of major media markets.

The "Tonight" show had a 6.9 rating and 17 audience share, according to Nielsen's preliminary estimates. One rating point roughly corresponds to a little more than a million households; the share indicates 17 percent of televisions on at that hour were tuned in to "Tonight."

The numbers were bigger in markets candidate Schwarzenegger cares about: 29 percent of televisions in Sacramento, California's capital, were tuned to "Tonight," and 23 percent in Los Angeles.

Oklahoma City, however, had the highest ratings of the 55 markets measured by Nielsen. The actor-candidate wasn't as big a draw clear across the country, where the "Tonight" audience share was 14, in New York.

More complete Nielsen ratings, including an estimate of how many people watched across the entire country, aren't expected until next week.