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Young Viewers Drawn to Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’

NBC program is skewing younger while its rivals have aged up

In its second week, and its first in its regular timeslot, NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” delivered more impressive numbers, especially among the youngest of adults.

According to Nielsen nationals released Thursday, the addition of L+3 time-shifted viewing (DVR playback within three days) has lifted the average audience of “Tonight” for the week of Feb. 24-28 to the show’s third largest tally (6.404 million) since the first week of Conan O’Brien as host in 2009.

The only weeks to draw better were Fallon’s first week (8.49 million from Feb. 17-21 for its episodes starting at 12:05 a.m. due to Olympics coverage on NBC) and Jay Leno’s final week (8.29 million for its four nights, Feb. 10-13).

In same-night results, “Tonight Show” last week delivered a larger audience (5.451 million viewers) than the combined totals of “Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS (2.728 million) and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC (2.632 million). And the NBC program was even more dominant among adults 18-49, with its 2.243 million viewers in the demo well more than the combined tallies of second-place “Kimmel” (828,000) and third-place “Late Show” (682,000).

In the demo, “Tonight” more than doubled its performance during the same week a year ago (with Leno as host) while Kimmel was 9% lower and Letterman was off by 17%. “Jimmy Kimmel” did post year-over-year gains in total viewers (2.63 million vs. 2.48 million) while “Late Show” limited its loss to 4% — with both shows seeming to have picked up some of Leno’s followers.

Fallon’s program attracted a median age of 52.7 (down from the 58.4 for “Tonight” a year ago with Leno), compared to 56.2 for Kimmel’s (up from 53.7 last year) and 59.2 for Letterman’s (up from 57.2).

This young skew was especially evident when looking at viewership in the younger half of the 18-49 demo (18-34), a category in which “Tonight Show” (991,000 viewers) drew more than three times the audience of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (300,000) and more than four times that of “Late Show” (216,000).

Following Fallon’s second week on “Tonight,” the premiere week of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” averaged 3.011 million total viewers, including roughly 1.4 million in the 18-49 demo. It was the second most-watched “Late Night” week, behind Fallon’s final week, since before the era of DVR time-shifting, back to early May 2004.

The median age for “Late Night” was 49.8, according to Nielsen.

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