Leno-Couric switch a hit

'Tonight' had best Monday since April 29, 1996

HOLLYWOOD — Jay Leno and Katie Couric switched jobs Monday, and curious viewers tuned in.

According to Nielsen, Leno’s guest-hosting stint on “Today” produced a 5.9 rating/18 share in metered-market overnights — the ayem show’s highest since March 20, the day after the war in Iraq began, and a 9% improvement over its Monday average.

“Today” easily beat ABC’s “Good Morning America” (4.1/13) and CBS’ “The Early Show” (2.1/7).

Viewers seemed more interested in how Couric would fare as host of “Tonight,” as the latenight skein netted a big 7.1/17 in the overnights, matching the net’s best showing in three years. Among Monday episodes of “Tonight,” this was the best since April 29, 1996 (Atlanta Olympics).

The 7.1 rating, a 42% improvement over the “Today” season average on Monday (5.0/12), easily topped the 3.9 for CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” and overwhelmed ABC’s combo of “Nightline” (3.1/7) and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (1.3/4).

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