Jimmy Fallon made his Tonight Show debut under unusual circumstances last night with an Olympics lead-in and slightly later midnight time slot, but the long wait paid off big in the ratings. According to Variety, Fallon’s Tonight Show earned a 7.1 rating, beating out the combined ratings of Letterman and Kimmel by 80% and doubling the average ratings of Leno’s final week as host at the end of January. To put it into perspective, Fallon’s final Late Night episode was his highest rated ever with a 2.2 rating and 6.6 million overall viewers. Exact viewer numbers have not yet been released, but the total is expected to be somewhere between 9 and 10 million. Not a bad way to get started.
UPDATE: THR reports that last night’s Tonight Show exceeded previous expectations with a whopping 11.3 million viewers. Leno’s final Tonight Show episode drew in 14.6 million viewers, so Jimmy is giving the old show a run for its money already.