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'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' delivers most-watched week in 20 years

by jmaloni

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Sat, Feb 22nd 2014 10:00 pm

Generates big sampling in its post-Olympic debut week

With Friday's telecast of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" delivering the show's highest ratings since Monday's series premiere, Fallon has generated strong viewer sampling throughout his week of post-Olympic telecasts.

For the full week, "Tonight" averaged 8.490 million viewers overall, making it the most-watched week of "The Tonight Show" in 20 years (since the week of the "Cheers" finale, May 17-21, 1993, 9.080 million), despite four of this week's five telecasts being moved to midnight ET start times due to Olympic overruns.

The 8.490 million viewers for the week is up 112 percent versus "Tonight's" prior season-to-date average of 4.011 million through Feb. 9. And note that "Tonight" has been delivering one of its strongest seasons in years, with the 4.011 million average up 15 percent versus one year earlier, and "Tonight's" biggest audience through 20 weeks of the season in five years.

In adults 18-49, Fallon's premiere week averaged a 2.8 rating, the show's best figure in nine years (since Jan. 24-28, 2005, the week of a special tribute to Johnny Carson, 2.8) and matching "Tonight's" best weekly rating in nearly 10 years (since May 3-7, 2004, the week of the "Friends" finale, 3.0).

Friday's 11:30 p.m. edition of "Tonight," featuring guest Justin Timberlake, grew versus the prior night's midnight telecast to post the show's strongest results since Monday's series premiere. The Feb. 21 telecast averaged a 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.778 million viewers overall to generate the show's third consecutive night-to-night gain in adults 18-49.

Friday's 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 is up 12 percent versus Thursday's 2.6, up 21 percent versus Wednesday's 2.4, and up 26 percent versus Tuesday's 2.3. The total viewership of 8.778 million is up 14 percent versus Thursday's 7.688 million, and up 21 percent versus Wednesday's 7.274 million.

The week's track in adults 18-49 is: 3.8, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.9; and in total viewers, the track is: 11.314 million, 7.366 million, 7.274 million, 7.688 million, 8.778 million. Friday's 8.778 million viewers overall is up 119 percent versus "Tonight's" prior season average in total viewers (4.011 million).

Meanwhile, in preliminary time period-based affiliate "live plus three day" results, time-shifted viewing has boosted Monday's premiere from a 3.8 rating to a 4.9 in adults 18-49.

That makes it the second-best Monday "Tonight Show" in L+3 in the history of Nielsen's current People Meter sample, and highest Monday in the nearly 22 years since Jay Leno's debut on "The Tonight Show," May 25, 1992 (7.6).

Also in L+3, The Feb. 6 finale of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" grew to a 4.4 rating in these preliminary time period-based affiliate L+3 results, up from its 3.8 in "live plus same day" ratings. That makes Leno's finale the top-rated Thursday "Tonight Show" in L+3 in nearly 10 years, dating back to the pre-DVR era with the night of the "Friends" finale (May 6, 2004, 6.0).

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