PREVIOUS, 6:59 AM: A week and a half after ending his stint on NBC’s Late Night with record ratings, Jimmy Fallon last night began his Tonight Show hosting gig in strong form. The midnight premiere of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon drew a sturdy 7.1/20 in overnight metered-market results. That’s tied with the 7.1/17 metered-market rating that Conan O’Brien pulled on June 1, 2009 when he began his short-lived run as host. (UPDATE 11 AM: The final numbers are in, and last night’s Fallon debut actually edged O’Brien’s opener in total viewers, 11.31 million vs. 9.17 million. Among adults 18-48, the two were tied at a 3.8 rating)
Fallon’s debut is also up from the 5.4/14 metered-market rating that Jay Leno garnered on March 1, 2010 when he returned to fronting the venerable NBC franchise after O’Brien’s brief stint. Leno’s return received a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49 and was watched by an audience of 6.67 million. Late night rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel were far behind Fallon last night with both having metered-market ratings of 2.0/5.