Ratings: Jimmy Fallon Caps Dominant Second Year on NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’

Jimmy Fallon Ratings Tonight Show NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Others in the late-night arena make ratings noise now and then, but no one has been able to match the consistency and dominance of Jimmy Fallon, who has completed two triumphant years as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

Since bowing in February 2014, Fallon, who will celebrate his “Tonight Show” anniversary with a primetime special on Sunday and a week of episodes originating from Los Angeles next week, has delivered the program’s top two-rated seasons in the last six years in both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

While CBS has improved its late-night ratings fortunes over the last five months with new “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, Fallon hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, his 18-49 average through five weeks of 2016 (1.01 rating in Nielsen’s “most current” averages) is the same as a year ago when the lower-rated David Letterman fronted the “Late Show” franchise.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Fallon beat Colbert by a 43% ratings margin in adults 18-49 (1.14 vs. 0.80) and a 23% advantage in total viewers (4.0 million vs. 3.3 million), according to Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates. And in “most current” numbers for the first quarter to date this year, those margins have increased to 74% in the demo (1.01 vs. 0.58) and 37% in overall audience (3.6 million vs. 2.7 million).

Fallon has also increased his advantage over ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” up in 18-49 by 102% in the first quarter of 2016 (1.01 vs. 0.50) vs. 74% a year ago. In total viewers, Fallon has grown its advantage from 43% a year ago to 65% this quarter.

It remains to be seen if Colbert, who last Sunday became the first late-night talk show host to air an episode immediately after a network’s coverage of the Super Bowl, can make up any ratings ground. After spiking on Monday of this week — pulling closer to Fallon in 18-49 and moving ahead in total viewers — the “Late Show” fell back to more typical ratings levels on Tuesday night and placed behind both Fallon (whose guests included Ryan Reynolds, pictured) and Kimmel in preliminary demo numbers.

To date, Fallon has defeated Colbert among adults 18-49 in all 21 weeks they’ve gone head to head. And in total viewers, the NBC host has prevailed in 20 of 21 weeks, losing only to Colbert in his premiere week last September.

On Sunday, Fallon will host “The Tonight Show Valentine’s Day Special,” a celebration of the show’s second anniversary with a compilation of some of the best moments, including celebrity interviews, comedy sketches and games. It will air from 9 to 11.

And next week will mark the second time that Fallon has brought “Tonight” out West for a week of episodes, having done so last February to strong ratings returns. Among his scheduled guests next week are Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jennifer Lopez, Ronda Rousey and Ryan Seacrest. Also, musical acts Zayn and Dead & Company will both make their television debuts.

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  1. Cuong Phung says:

    It’s pissed me off when you bring your own country leader out in your show to joke and put trash on him – PRESIDENT TRUMP. What do you feel when the people from FOREIGN COUNTRIES WATCH YOUR SHOW AND TALK TRASH YOUR/OUR COUNTRY, OUR PRESIDENT……THINK IT OVER BEFORE STAR YOUR SHOW JIMMY….

  2. donny says:

    Colbert is the least likable TV host in history. He bases his entire show on his liberal obsessions. Every joke is at the expense of a non liberal. It took Letterman 28 years before he exposed himself as a annoying liberal.
    There is a political and social agenda behind Colbert’s show but even liberals can only stomach so much from a host who uses his platform to lecture and preach about his personal beliefs.

  3. Bettie Bradley says:

    Admire Stephen Colbert’s intelligence and wit but have to switch stations during his show opening when he keeps begging for applause…waving to nobody in the audience, blowing kisses, interacting with his band leader and any other nonsense to get more applause. Enough already!

  4. Bill B. says:

    I don’t think any current host of any late night show is bad. They have different styles, but they all seem talented to me and all are better than Leno who was monotonously mediocre and not a very nice guy. “Black Lies Matter”. Really?!

  5. M Lehman says:

    Trevor Noah has more wit, substance and class than Fallon. So does Colbert.

  6. Kevin Leeman says:

    The next time Jimmy Fallon is funny will be the first.

  7. 1Ronald says:

    No surprise here. Colbert? Bring back, replace Colbert with, Jay Leno. Then see Jimmy Fall on his face.

  8. nimakarvar says:

    “Celebrity” is spelled wrong. Second to last paragraph.

  9. Cynthia Clemons says:

    Bad news for the country!

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