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Dave vs. Conan: It's all in the spin

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Guests Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington jaw with Conan, Dave.

"Conan Takes Week Two In Every Key Ratings Category," boasts NBC.

"Late Show with David Letterman In Closest Competitive Position to The Tonight Show In Viewers Since December 2005," brags CBS.

Oh how we love the ratings games networks play. Week 2 of Conan vs. Dave is in the books, with NBC pounding away about their guy's appeal among advertiser-favored younger viewers while CBS figures that every American counts in its equations.

The national Nielsens say that Letterman averaged 3.669 million viewers in the week of June 8-12, finishing just a sliver behind O'Brien's 3.771 million viewers. That's the closest Dave's been since the week ending Dec. 2, 2005, says CBS, noting that Oprah Winfrey made her first Late Show appearance in that week.

NBC counters by touting Conan's blowouts of Dave among 18-to-49-year-olds and 18-to-34-year-olds, with Peacock exec Rick Ludwin noting that "this business is all about delivering the key demographic groups."

Among 18-to-49-year-olds, Conan averaged 2.013 million to Dave's 1.126 million. And with 18-to-34-year-olds, it was a 1.040 million to 376,000 rout.

NBC knows how to rub it in. The network's release also mentions that the median age of O'Brien's audience in Week 2 was 45.7 compared to Letterman's fossil-esque 56.7.

The Peacock also brags that its guy won "despite the controversy involving Gov. Sarah Palin that has boosted interest in Late Show."

Round 3 of their ratings battle is in progress, with Tonight beating Late Show in "every significant demo" on Monday and Tuesday of this week, which began with Letterman re-apologizing to Palin for the sexual jokes about her daughter.

But CBS is more than happy to be in a virtual tie with NBC in the total viewer Nielsens.

By the way, ABC's Nightline is no piker in the total viewers race. It averaged 3.4 million in Week 2 to finish close behind both Tonight and Late Show. And Nightline ran second with 18-to-49-year-olds.