Despite Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien’s attempts to steal some of Leno’s grand finale viewers, Variety reports that early ratings show last night’s Tonight Show brought in its highest ratings in five years – the last time he hit the same amount of viewers was his return to The Tonight Show following Conangate in 2009. Last week’s Tonight Show ratings beat out Letterman and Kimmel with an average of 4.99 million, compared to Letterman’s 3 million and Kimmel’s 2.4 million, and Leno’s departure from the show comes off of a 67-week winning streak in total viewers compared to his late night competition. Not a bad way to go out.
UPDATE: According to THR, last night’s Tonight Show ratings were even better than predicted, garnering its biggest audience in 15 years with a whopping 14.6 million viewers. The last time Leno hit those numbers was his exclusive sit-down with Jerry Seinfeld following the Seinfeld series finale in May 1998.