NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon continues to handily dominate late-night in overall audience, last week clocking 4.26 million viewers to Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s 2.83 million on ABC and David Letterman’s 2.78 million on CBS. In the demo, Fallon (1.32/6) beat Kimmel and Dave combined (0.76/3 and 0.55/2, respectively). Fallon hung on to 99% of his previous week’s demo and was up 81% compared to same week last year when Leno was hosting and was No. 1 and doing just fine in the ratings. That’s good news for Tonight Show as it’s still seeking its new normal, four weeks into its new era with new host Fallon. Under the heading “Not So Good”: Fallon’s 1.32 demo rating came in short of Conan O’Brien’s Week 4 demo rating of 1.4; Fallon’s overall crowd is about 569,000 viewers ahead of Conan’s Week 4.
Kimmel put up a stiff fight for the spotlight last week, broadcasting from Austin to coincide with SXSW. That was followed by the release of the latest Esquire magazine, in which Kimmel is featured as “Mr. James Kimmel, Troublemaker.” While in Austin, Kimmel logged a third consecutive week of growth in total viewers (2.830 million vs. 2.744 million the previous week) and the demo (0.76 compared to previous week’s 0.73) which are his best stats since November. Kimmel’s camp noted JKL clocked gains over the same week last year, though same week last year Kimmel was not only not traveling — viewers love traveling late-night hosts — he was in repeats. Kimmel also aired an original on Friday last week — a night on which he often airs encores. It was, in fact, the first Friday that Kimmel’s show has aired an original since Fallon debuted as Tonight Show host the week of February 17. “JKL’s” final telecast from Austin on Friday, featuring Willie Nelson, Lil Wayne and Los Lonely Boys, snagged 3.457 million viewers — its third most-watched broadcast ever, behind only the Matt Damon takeover episode on January 24 of ’13 and the return of ‘Scandal Thursdays’ this past February 27.
In his Esquire cover story, Kimmel says his only complaint about Fallon “is the first name: Jimmy. People get us mixed up all the time. No one remembers which Jimmy is which. Or they think I’m him, which can only make you feel like you should be him. Actually, he says the same thing happens to him. Jimmy. He’s like an athlete out there. He can jump high, act, sing. He’s a true performer. I’m a broadcaster. That’s how I come at this. Not a stand-up, not an actor, not a commentator. A broadcaster.” Of his ABC late-night gig, Kimmel told Esquire: “This is The Job. The only job for a person like me. I mean, I like to draw. I’m really good at it. I’m a good artist, and I think that’s what I would have done had radio not worked out for me. But here I am. You won’t see me doing anything else in the next 25 years.”