Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” kept the late-night crown on Thursday despite a nearly hourlong delay from an overrun of the NFL’s season kickoff game. Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show,” meanwhile, saw an uptick on its third night thanks to an emotional appearance by Vice President Joe Biden.
NBC drew a predictably big crowd in primetime with its Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots broadcast.
The game delivered a 17.7 rating/30 share in primetime, according to Nielsen’s 56 overnight metered markets, which cover about 70% of U.S. TV households. According to NBC that matches the highest overnight score for an NFL kickoff broadcast, set in 2010 with the Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints matchup. And it’s up 5% from last year’s Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game.
All the drama surrounding the Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal and the recently rescinded NFL suspension for quarterback Tom Brady undoubtedly boosted tune-in for the game, which ended with a 28-21 Patriots win.
The NFL overrun pushed back the start-time of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to 12:27 a.m. ET. But the funnel of football fans helped boost “Tonight Show” to 4.3 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49. That was comfortably ahead of “Late Show,” which delivered 3.93 million viewers and 0.8 in 18-49 — a gain of more than 300,000 viewers from Wednesday’s showing (3.6 million, 0.8 in 18-49).