If NBC brass needed another message that they need to fix the disastrous Thursday primetime lineup, they got it this week. Both Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers took a tumble behind the low-rated NBC primetime series on Thursday but rebounded last night. There were mitigating factors as primetime usage on Friday is generally lower. Fallon, and by extension Meyers, were helped by the fact that Jimmy Kimmel, who tightened the race significantly on Thursday night, was in a repeat. (Additionally, The Daily Show and Colbert Report air Monday-Thursday, leaving younger viewers with fewer late-night alternatives on Friday.) ABC does very well in primetime on Friday, and would Kimmel have been an original, it would have certainly complicated things for Fallon. Last night, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon drew a 3.8 rating in the metered markets, up 9% from Thursday. Late Night (2.2) shot up 29% vs. Thursday to log its best number since the Monday debut. Meyers also matched his best Fallon retention of 58% posted on premiere night. Both Fallon and Meyers finished well ahead of their late-night competitors: David Letterman (2.7), Kimmel (2.2 with an encore), Craig Ferguson (1.3).
UPDATE: For the week, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon averaged 5.5 million viewers, down from the record 8.5 million who watched Fallon’s premiere run last week. It was Tonight’s third largest audience in four years, behind Jay Leno’s final week and Fallon’s first. Seth Meyers’s debut week at Late Night averaged 2.7 Million viewers, down from Fallon’s farewell week (4.2 million) and the franchise’s second largest weekly viewership in seven years.