Fallon delivers big numbers to NBC

'Bachelor' hits ratings highs

Talkshow host Jimmy Fallon is off to a solid start.

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” won its 12:37 a.m. timeslot with a 2.3 rating and 8 share among metered-market households, giving the Peacock its best Monday rating in the hour since 2006.

The perf was also higher than other latenight debuts over the past decade, including “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” in 2005 (1.8/7), “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in 2003 (2.0/7) and “Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” in 1999 (1.7/7).

Fallon also performed decently despite tough competish: “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which usually airs repeats on Mondays, instead ran an original — featuring “The Bachelor” star Jason Mesnick, who had just dumped his fiance on national TV.

Speaking of “The Bachelor,” Mesnick’s reversal helped give ABC a big night in primetime. The 13th-season fnale of “The Bachelor” logged the franchise’s best 18-49 score (5.4/13) since May 2004 and its largest overall audience (15.48 million) since November 2003.

Performing even better was the “After the Final Rose” program, which aired at 10 p.m. (6.7/16 in 18-49, 17.47m) and logged best-ever such scores for the franchise. Excluding “American Idol,” only a handful of series telecasts this season have rated higher in 18-49 than the spec.

Overall, ABC enjoyed its third strongest night of the season in 18-49 (behind the evenings of the Academy Awards and the two-hour “Grey’s Anatomy” season preem).

Alphabet knew it had a lot of drama on its plate, after Mesnick waffled and told the show’s winner that he had a change of heart. Mesnick then instead proclaimed his love to the woman he had originally passed on. With all that material, Alphabet opted to air a second hour of “After the Final Rose” on Tuesday night as well.

ABC’s Monday night success extended into latenight, where Mesnick’s appearance boosted “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” And at 11:35 p.m., “Nightline” earned a strong 2.1 rating in its target 25-54 demo (according to Nielsen local people meters) topping both NBC’s “Tonight Show” (1.8) and CBS’ “Late Show” (1.5).

In the metered-markets, Kimmel’s 2.5 rating outperformed NBC’s Fallon, which started roughly a half-hour later.

With the “Bachelor” franchise riding high, ABC announced Tuesday night that “The Bachelorette” will return for a summer run starting Monday, May 18 — a week after the “Dancing with the Stars” finale. Jillian Harris, who finished in third place on this winter’s installment of “The Bachelor,” will star.

Summer strategy for “Bachelorette” repeats last year’s successful scheduling, as that edition also bowed in mid-May.

As for “Late Night,” early reviews were unanimous: Critics love house band the Roots. Fallon? Well, they’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

But they all agree, Fallon was nervous on night one — and that made for a decent but unremarkable first episode of “Late Night” under his watch.

The Los Angeles Times called the first episode an “encouraging start,” while the Boston Globe wrote that the NBC talkshow “wasn’t a legendary latenight train wreck so much as a train stalled between stations, going nowhere, filled with impatient passengers.”

Time magazine called Fallon’s monologue “unremarkable joke-wise, but there were glimmers of potential… the structure and the fact of the monologue seems to indicate that Fallon intends to deliver a very typical jokes-sketches-and-sitdowns latenight show.”

Fallon himself, via Twitter, called the reviews that he read “fair,” and admitted that early on the show would “have some hits and misses.”

“I was a bit nervous,” he said of the first show. “But overall really happy… our 10th show will be better than the first. Our 50th show better than the 10th.”

Justin Timberlake garnered praise for his impersonations of Barry Gibb (along with Fallon, as the two re-enacted one of their old “Saturday Night Live” gags) and Michael McDonald, while first guest Robert DeNiro lived up to his reputation for unexciting talkshow stints. Conan O’Brien appeared in the show’s opening, while Van Morrison was the show’s first musical performer.

As just about every review noted, it’s still way too soon to render a verdict on Fallon — who welcomed guests Tina Fey, Jon Bon Jovi and Santogold on Tuesday night’s episode.

“Great first night — solid ratings and fun show,” “Late Night” co-producer Gavin Purcell said via Twitter. “Now, four more times this week. Then 40+ more weeks this year. Etc, etc, etc.”

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