I am not surprised to learn that Leno had better ratings than Letterman on the first night back. Nor am I surprised that boths shows enjoyed ratings above previous levels prior to the strike. Fresh is better than repeats. And most people prefer to watch a train wreck than good news and the return of late night shows without writers could deliver interesting, unscripted surprises. At the same time, these shows, like the soon to return Colbert Report and Daily Show, also need to stay current and fresh every day. Viewership will quickly move to Letterman as his guests get better and theirs get worse.
And what is all the fighting about...the internet. if the content isn't fresh or interesting, it will not get downloaded either. Letterman's marketing team needs to continue to push that their show is fresher by not being afraid to share their clips across the web. How can Letterman win: Stay topical, political, with "A" guests, and promote the heck out of it across the web. Over short time, watch how the ratings trend changes and Letterman succeeds!