Late Night Ratings: Hillary Clinton Visit Helps NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’ Stay on Top

Jimmy Fallon continues his winning ways in late night, with Hillary Clinton’s visit on Wednesday helping to produce another easy victory in young adults for NBC’s “Tonight Show” over CBS’ “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

According to Nielsen, “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 1.1 rating/6 share in Nielsen’s 25 markets with Local People Meters, nearly matching the combined tallies of “Late Show” (0.7/3) and “Jimmy Kimmel” (0.5/3). The NBC program has now won each of the six nights since Colbert’s big bow produced an opening-night victory on Sept. 8.

Helping NBC’s cause in latenight on Wednesday was its dominant performance in primetime, as the season finale of the Peacock’s “America’s Got Talent” delivered about four times the number of young adults as either ABC or CBS programming in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour.

And in metered-market household overnights, last night’s “Tonight Show” earned a 3.2 rating/8 share, well ahead of “Late Show” (2.2/6) and “Jimmy Kimmel” (1.6/4), the third time in the last four nights that Fallon has moved ahead. The 3.2 also marks the best on a Wednesday for “Tonight” in seven months (since Feb. 4).

On Wednesday’s show, Fallon ended up interviewing Clinton twice — first in his signature Trump hairdo, when he “called” Clinton at home, and then on stage. It was Clinton’s first late night appearance this election cycle; Trump had appeared on “The Tonight Show” last week.

In official national estimates from Nielsen for last week, NBC’s “Tonight Show” finished on top in adults 18-49 with a seven-month-high 1.2 rating, followed by “Late Show” (0.94) and “Jimmy Kimmel” (0.44). “Late Show” won premiere week in total viewers (4.45 million vs. 3.94 million for “Tonight”), though Fallon won the three nights following Colbert’s premiere.

For CBS, “Late Show” saw big year-over-year increases vs. David Letterman’s performance in the comparable 2014 week. It was up 135% in adults 18-49 (0.94 vs. 0.40), 209% in adults 18-34 (0.68 vs. 0.22), 125% in adults 25-54 (0.68 vs. 0.22) and 95% in total viewers (4.45 million vs. 2.28 million). The show’s median age was also lower (59.7 vs. 61.2 for Letterman).

Digitally, the premiere episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” marked the best series debut ever for any CBS show in terms of full episode streams on CBS.com and the CBS apps – even topping all CBS primetime shows – and broke “The Late Show’s” previous traffic records on both platforms.

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