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Sochi’s Opening Ceremony, Fallon’s ‘Late Night’ Exit Score Big for NBC

More than 31 mil watch primetime coverage from Russia; 6.6 mil see Fallon's 'Late Night' farewell

Friday was another big night for NBC, with the official Opening Ceremonies of the Sochi Games holding up very well and Jimmy Fallon exiting his “Late Night” post with series-high numbers.

According to Nielsen overnights, the Sochi Opening Ceremony averaged an 18.5 household rating/30 share, off only 8% from the live telecast of the 2010 Vancouver Opening Ceremony (20.0/33). And it was up a big 26% from the last non-live Opening Ceremony of the Winter Games (a 14.7/23 for Torino in 2006).

With a boost from the Olympics lead-in, Jimmy Fallon’s final bow of “Late Night” brought in 6.6 million viewers — the highest total viewer tally for the show since 1993.

The top local markets on Friday were Minneapolis (26.0/45), Salt Lake City (24.4/43), Ft. Myers (21.7/34), Chicago (21.6/34) and Boston (21.5/37).

In preliminary national estimates, the Opening Ceremony did an 8.6/26 in adults 18-49 and 31.7 million viewers overall during primetime.

According to Facebook data editors, roughly 5.9 million people worldwide were chatting about the Opening Ceremony on Facebook, and the total tally of posts, comments and “likes” by all of those people – collectively called interactions – was 9 million.

The most-buzzed-about moments during the Opening Ceremonies were Team USA in the Parade of Nations (their sweaters were a very popular topic, drawing many Bill Cosby references), the Jamaican bobsled team’s entrance and the fifth Olympic Ring malfunction.

Elsewhere in primetime on Friday, the top 18-49 numbers came for ABC’s “20/20” and “Shark Tank” repeat (both 1.2 rating), while the ABC newsmag and a repeat of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” drew the largest overall series audiences on the night (about 5 million viewers apiece). ABC notes that it was up 10% in 18-49 (1.1 vs. 1.0) and gained about 1.6 million viewers (4.7 million vs. 3.1 million) vs. the Opening Ceremony of 2010.

In latenight, starting at an earlier 12:05 a.m. ET time following NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony from Sochi, Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night” averaged a 4.8 rating/13 share in Nielsen’s metered markets (excluding Philadelphia) — the highest ever for the show on any night of the week and more than three times the show’s season average (1.5). It bested the 4.6/15 of one night earlier, following the final telecast of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

The final nationals came in at 6.6 million viewers and a 2.2 rating in adults 18-49, which marked the show’s best number in the demo since 2004, during the Conan O’Brien era.

Guests on the final “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” included Andy Samberg and the Muppets, who joined Fallon on stage for a rousing rendition of the Band’s “The Weight.” Fallon debuts as host of “The Tonight Show” on Feb. 17, following NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage.

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