Jimmy Fallon’s Second ‘Tonight Show’ Draws Program’s Largest Tuesday Audience Since 2000

Jimmy Fallon Jerry Seinfeld

UPDATE: In “fast official” results from Nielsen, night two of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.37 million viewers overall in its special midnight-1 a.m. timeslot.

The 7.37 million, a decline of about 35% from Night 1, is about 85% more than the average Tuesday audience this season for “Tonight” (4.01 million) and the largest on a Tuesday for the program since December 2000. 

“Tonight” bested the combined tune-in of “CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman” (2.69 million) and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (2.15 million). Similarly, its 2.3 demo rating was more than double the combined results of “Late Show” (0.6) and “Kimmel” (0.5).


NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” had another easy time of it in the ratings race Tuesday, beating the combined tallies of its ABC and CBS competitors and retaining three-fourths of its premiere audience, according to preliminary figures.

Total-viewer estimates will be made available later today, but Tuesday’s hour of “Tonight Show,” again starting at midnight instead of the typical 11:35 p.m. due to the Olympics, averaged a 5.3 household rating/15 share in the 56 local markets metered by Nielsen. Starting at their normal times, CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” pulled a 2.2/5 in the metered markets, and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” did a 1.9/5).

Fallon retained 75% of his show’s premiere-night rating (5.3 vs. 7.1), a little better than the 70% hold that Conan O’Brien saw when he took over for Jay Leno in 2009 (5.0 vs. 7.1).

(It’s also worth nothing, that while NBC’s primetime performance improved on the second night of O’Brien’s stint as “Tonight Show” host, the Peacock’s numbers were down on Tuesday of this week vs. Monday.)

Fallon’s second night also delivered the biggest Tuesday metered-market household rating in seven years (since a 5.3 in 2007) and was an 83% improvement over “Tonight’s” season-to-date aerage in the metered markets (5.3 vs. 2.9).

In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, “Tonight” (2.3 rating) doubled the combined ratings of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (0.6) and CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” (0.5).

In Nielsen’s fast national estimates for Monday, the premiere of “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 3.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.31 million viewers overall. This was the second biggest audience for “Tonight” since May 2009, behind only Leno’s final episodes earlier this month (14.64 million) and when he exited for the first time in 2009 (11.90 million) as the show transitioned to O’Brien.

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  1. Mary says:

    Jimmy will kill the late night spot….I still think letterman is his competition though….as long as he isn’t too snl with his bits and not “loving” everyone he has on the show..he can calm down a bit too he’s too nervous and jittery sometimes…but so talented he can’t lose…

  2. c says:

    i agree first week at work is easy try many years kimmell

  3. Rahu Ron says:

    Yeah, and what happens after the first week? After there’s no U2, Seinfeld, and the whole parade of superstars? Even with all that, Fallon’s 1st night numbers didn’t come close to Lenos closing night numbers. I’m guessing Simpsons reruns will be number #1 in the late night slot within a month.

  4. chris says:

    Jimmy has the huge ratings of the olympics as a lead in.

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