The debut of Jay Leno’s Garage clocked CNBC’s biggest primetime audience last night with 916K viewers. In addition to being far and away CNBC’s biggest primetime audience Wednesday night – the closest competitor was the 8 PM Shark Tank repeat with 645K viewers – Leno’s debut also came in 40% better than same day last week in the time slot (a Shark Tank repeat that logged 653K) and 66% better than CNBC did same day last year in primetime (551K).
But in the network’s target news demo, viewers 25-54, Leno’s car-loving series opener logged 272K viewers, a 2% slip from same day last week — another Shark Tank repeat — and 3% from same day last year in prime.
Leno’s sweet spot was the 35-64 age bracket, where his show launch averaged 496K viewers, also dominating CNBC’s primetime last night. In this age group, CNBC’s next-best showing was its 9 PM Shark Tank, which logged 496K viewers.
Leno’s launch got a big push this week on NBC, including a Today segment and a return to The Tonight Show to spot Jimmy Fallon during his monologue, during which the current and former host competed to see who could come up with the corniest How Bad Is The Economy joke. Leno won, naturally.