Conan gets a big sendoff: His “Tonight” farewell dominates Friday ratings

Conanfreebirdjpg-e88320c4cac93ad1_large Landing a new show at Fox won’t be a slam dunk, but Conan O’Brien may have helped his cause big time on Friday night.

The final episode of “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” scored big with adults 18-49 — averaging a whopping 4.8 rating in the 25 local people meter markets. That’s a huge leap over his national season average in the demo — a 1.1 rating.

It also beat everything that aired in primetime on Friday night (which, granted, was filled mostly with the “Hope for Haiti” telethon on all four major nets) and also repped O’Brien’s best numbers since taking over “Tonight” seven months ago.

O’Brien dominated over “Late Show with David Letterman,” which averaged a 0.6 in the demo, and helped “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which scored a 2.3.

In the 55 national metered markets, O’Brien picked up a 7.0 overnight rating and 16 share — virtually identical to his launch rating last June (7.1/16) and an enormous advantage over Friday night’s Letterman ratings (2.5/5).

The metered market numbers also dwarfed O’Brien’s farewell appearance on “Late Night” in February 2009 (2.6). But it didn’t quite reach Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show’ finale last May, which posted a big 8.8 household rating/20 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights.

Back in 1992, Johnny Carson wrapped his 30-year “Tonight Show” tenure with a 31.9 rating/62 share in the metered markets.

Complete ratings for O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” will be available next week.

O’Brien’s final show included guests Tom Hanks, Neil Young and Will Ferrell — as well as surprise cameos by Steve Carrell, Beck and Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top).

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