Jimmy Fallon Delivers Strong First Week at ‘Tonight Show’ Helm

Jimmy Fallon Delivers Strong First Week

The real test for Jimmy Fallon comes next week and beyond, but there’s no denying that the new host of “The Tonight Show” delivered a strong first-week performance.

Friday’s edition of the show — which featured Justin Timberlake, who is known for doing great sketches with Fallon —   delivered 8.77 million viewers and a 2.9 rating in adults 18-49, the highest mark in the key demo since Fallon’s debut outing on Monday.

Fallon’s premiere week was, of course, buoyed by Olympic-size lead-ins, a strategic decision in the timing of “The Tonight Show” handoff that has paid off handsomely for NBC, even if Winter Olympics ratings overall have been mostly ho-hum.

With “Tonight Show” hitting its highest marks in more than 20 years in key measures, NBC execs undoubtedly are hoping that the regime-change at its latenight institution will stick this time around. In June 2009, when Conan O’Brien took the reins from Jay Leno, he did not have the benefit of Olympics lead-ins to boost overall sampling.

Fallon’s “Tonight Show” delivered its most-watched week since May 17-21, 1993, the week of the “Cheers” finale. Friday’s edition was the first of the week that was not pushed to midnight by Olympics coverage. It began at 11:30 p.m., close to the 11:35 p.m. slot that will be the norm for Fallon starting next week.

For the week, Fallon averaged 8.49 million viewers and a 2.8 rating. In the demo that marked the best week for the show since January 2005, when Leno delivered a tribute to Johnny Carson.

There was more good news for Fallon on Friday as Nielsen’s Live-plus-3 numbers boosted his opening night rating to a 4.9 in adults 18-49, up from 3.8 in live-plus-same day measure. That lift makes Fallon’s debut the most-watched Monday seg of “Tonight Show” since May 25, 1992 — the night of Leno’s premiere.

NBC also noted that the live-plus-3 numbers for Leno’s Feb. 6 farewell episode boosted the demo rating to 4.4, from 3.8. That was enough to make it the top Thursday edition of “Tonight” since the night of the “Friends” finale on May 6, 2004.


Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 24

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Great start Jimmy! Making people laugh is good for our health. Your parents I’m sure are very proud of you. I’m sure you will be very successful.
    Best wishes,
    Steven Kaplan

  2. Paddy'O says:

    NBC said they wanted a younger audience and it looks like they’re going to get it. As for us two old fogies, we’ll get an extra hour of TV somewhere else, too raucous & rowdy for us. It’s just the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon repackaged with a bit of Saturday Night mixed in. We love Jimmy but want Carson back(smiley face) or Jay anytime. Guess it’s time to give Kimmel or Letterman another go or get another hour of sleep,at our age we need it. We do wish the best to Jimmy he is a very talented young man and has our respect. Pat & Karen

    • Paddy'O says:

      The following is some comments that someone named RD posted on the 22nd along with our response. We do not know what happened to them so here they are again……………..
      You know what, all I see is a very good PR and marketing campaign by NBC with an Olympic lead in that guaranteed great numbers. The two together have somehow brainwashed a good number in the press to overlook how utterly immature and annoying Fallon is and will prove to be over time.

      His interviews have zero depth, everyone of them consists of he and his guest gushing over each other and telling each other how great and amazing they both are. All with him fake smiling and flailing around trying to contain his excitement.

      Tuning in to watch him clap like a seal at everything that happens on the show, running around like a chicken without a head and getting celebrities to play games is fine for 12:30 or a once a week show like SNL on the weekend. Every night, it is tiring.

      Comment by RD — Saturday February 22, 2014 @ 8:43pm PST REPLY TO THIS POST

      Bravo,bravo,bravo, very well spoken, hit the nail right on the head, thank you. We added a wee bit more, see below. Paddy’O & Karen

  3. david t. krall says:

    from: david t. krall
    email: truthatlarge@hotmail.com

    I agree to a large degree !!! you are so right on so many points !!! But I’m willing to really see how well he does in the next / crucial 3-4 weeks…I watched it last night and it seemed
    or appeared to “feel” much and very different that his opening week…I didn’t like it as much.
    Last night it was as if the school bus arrived and they they let the junior high school crowd sit in the audience… What is with the obssesive howeling “whoooo…..whoooo…whooo”…
    after just about everthing he said? One or two woman did it even during the middle of
    joke..BEFORE the punchline???what’s up with that??? some rude, needy compulsive
    craving for attention…They sound like lemmings or mindless seals…I think he was even mildly irriated ( and did his best not to show it) when some idiot right in the middle of his monologue yelled out, “we love you Jimmy”… is this the kind of demographic he is attempting to attract and draw-in?? Seth Myers I really like…I always liked the Late-nite show…Stay the
    course Jimmy F…stay the course…and tell/remind NBC there’s a weeknight curfew for
    junior high school kids…

  4. joe says:

    As I have said all along. Fallon is a nice guy, but he is not as likeable as Jay Leno. First of all his
    humor it to quick to understand. Leno talked slower, wherein you could absorb more what he was saying. Fallon talks fast to get it out – but if people have trouble hearing his every word then people will tune out. Fallon is for the younger audience who is more connected with him humor perhaps.
    I watch him for 10 or 15 minutes nightly to see if I can get hooked, but I can’t.
    It was easy to watch Lenoo. He made you feel welcome and you wanted to watch more. You watch Fallon and you want to watch less. NBC made a bad move. Fallon is more suited for a game show.

  5. carol says:

    Not a fan, I miss Jay. That being said, not that anyone gives a hoot what I would think, bring it down a few notches. The skit with Mrs. Obama was so over the top it was painful to watch.

  6. Anita L. says:

    First show was a bomb. Now I can go to bed earlier each night. I miss Jay Leno.

  7. Brian says:

    Watched all the first week episodes , was not impressed. Got tired of hearing Jimmy and his quests high fiving and tell us every night which number episode this was and how lucky he is.The viewer wants to hear about the quests lives and have questions answered , see some comedy, and be entertained. Johnny and Jay knew how to host a show. Jimmy is going to ruin the tonight show based on his first week. He is a great comic but he doesn’t have it as the tonight show host.

  8. Ron says:

    NBC has handed David Letterman a gift. I believe Letterman will pick up some of Jay Leno’s audience. I prefer Jay, he was funnier. Why would they replace Jay, when he was winning in the ratings? That doesn’t make any sense. I believe in the old saying, “If it’s not broken , Don’t fix it”!

  9. Frank says:

    I didn’t care for Conan, but it seemed like he followed the Tonight Show format. Jimmy Fallon has turned it into a completely different show. I always turned the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon off. I tried to watch it, but it just didn’t appeal to me. I miss Jay Leno! I’m done with The Tonight Show.

  10. john says:

    Jimmy Fallon has turned the Tonight Show into Saturday Night Live. I don’t find him funny at ll. Jay Leno was funnier. I will no longer be watching this show. For me it’s goodbye Tonight Show, Hello David Letterman!

  11. Thanks for the review of the analytics. For those who value content, it’s significant that Jimmy Fallon is talented, hip, self-effacing and overall a happy guy; whereas Conan is/was none of those. Go, Jimmy, go!

  12. John Bates says:

    I watched the first week of the new Tonight Show. Jimmy Fallon is a nice enough guy, but his show is neither funny nor entertaining. Maybe it is a New York Vs. Los Angeles style thing, but I will to be watching next week. He will not last the month.

  13. Donna says:

    I am 61 years old and I LOVE Jimmy Fallon,s new Tonight Show. I never saw one episode of Late Night but I have not missed one new show. He’s fabulous. I was never a fan of Jay Leno (nice guy I guess) and I like David Letterman but Jimmy Fallon blows them away. In conclusion do not discount my age group-we’re still cool.

  14. John Evans says:

    If that was a strong week I despair for the rest of his run. It seems to me he is playing to a juvenile audience. The jokes are not particularly funny and the monologues lame. I had hoped for much better. Let’s hope Seth Myers can raise the flag a little or Letterman may be gaining a larger share.
    Stay in touch Leno.

  15. david t. krall says:

    from: david t. krall
    email: truthatlarge@hotmail.com

    Jimmy Fallon had an excellent opening/ debut first week…yes ! he will thrive & carry the
    mantel…I always wondered if NBC “panicked” too soon regarding Conan and didn’t give him enouigh time? I blame the NBC ‘suits” for that…not Jay and not Conan..Regarding “stats” mentioned above? how did Conan’s ratings do when he picked up the mantel 5 (?) years ago…for now the late-night talk circuit is rich,deep and crowded…Dave, Arsinio, Jimmy K, Jimmy F, Conan…they are all good !!!! Will Jay come back on CNN, Bravo, ION, PBS??? Unfortunately, the late-night (and day-time) talk show “cemetery” is equally deep (no pun intended–well maybe!), & also crowded with a history of hosts going back to the beginning of TV…Jay would be excellent on a revamped version of “U Bet Your Life” either as a show, or as a segment within some type of comedy-variety-talk venue or format..The Networks dropped the ball years ago, with the rise of cable. They, each of them, shoud have created ”sister networks/ channels” of additional shows and programming, involving old TV shows, old/vinatge/historical newscast type shows, old talk shows, unaired pilots etc…there is literally tons of stuff sitting and rotting in vaults and warehouses at CBS, ABC, & NBC, not to mention large/local affiliates and markets like NY, Phila., Chicago, LA, Detroit, etc.

  16. I think he will thrive…he’s young and they love him going in…his sketch stuff is first rate and zany as hell. HIs monologues need better writing. And hate the announcer and I want his job!

  17. Jimmy is a nice guy, but he is not funny.

    Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes (chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group) would be wise to sign Leno to a multi-year, big bucks contract. Also, Leno’s Burbank studio is not owned by NBC, so Fox could get that for the new Leno show too.

    The switch would be seamless. Also, CNN might be in the bidding for Leno’s talents.

    As nice as Fallon might be, he cannot hold a candle to Jay. The same is true of Letterman, Conan and the rest of the late-night hosts. Jay will keep blowing them away when he returns.

    • elliot gainway says:

      Roger Ailes has nothing to do with FOX Entertainment. Unless Leno does a show for FOX News, Ailes would have nothing to do with it. I doubt FOX Entertainment would sign Leno because it’s affiliates don’t want a late night show. They make way more money and don’t have to share profits with the network with their sitcom reruns.

  18. Chris Lucas says:

    Conan probably wouldn’t have had the numbers Jimmy is enjoying even with the Olympics – simply because Conan doesn’t have the appeal of Jimmy.

More TV News from Variety