Jimmy Fallon attracted a predictably big crowd for his first night as host of The Tonight Show. Per preliminary Nielsen data, Fallon’s premiere notched a 7.1 household rating in the nation’s 56 biggest TV markets. While that’s a bit lower than Leno’s final show earlier this month (9.2 household rating), it tied the ratings for Conan O’Brien’s first-ever Tonight back in 2009 and was easily Fallon’s top-rated show ever as a late-night host. In terms of viewers under 50, Fallon notched a 3.4 rating in the top 25 cities. That’s good, but not amazing: O’Brien’s last night on Tonight did a 4.8 demo rating back in 2010. In any case, opening-night numbers in late-night are always a bit meaningless, given all the hype surrounding debuts — but last night’s are particularly wonky. On the one hand, airing during the Olympics gave Fallon a huge advantage that, for example, O’Brien didn’t have for his June 1 kickoff. On the other, Fallon started at midnight, rather than 11:35, and that no doubt depressed viewership a bit, since viewership in late-night always takes a big drop after midnight. Bottom line: Lots and lots of people saw Fallon’s first show, and even more are talking about it today thanks to all of the show’s viral moments.
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON – Episode 0001 Photo: Lloyd Bishop/NBC