How Fallon's ‘Tonight Show’ Debut Week Ratings Stack Up to Kimmel, O'Brien and Leno

How Fallon's 'Tonight Show' Debut Week Ratings Stack Up to Kimmel, O'Brien and Leno

Spoiler alert: It's done quite well in Week 1 compared to competitors’ premiere weeks, but the real ratings test will start Monday when the show loses its Olympics lead-in

Jimmy Fallon‘s “Tonight Show” has been killing it in the ratings — with a very strong assist from its Winter Olympics lead-in.

Over the course of the “new” NBC late-night franchise's first four days, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” has averaged a 2.8 rating/14 share in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic. These numbers make “Fallon” top dog in recent network late-night debut weeks — higher than Conan O'Brien's “Tonight” premiere week, which averaged a strong 2.5/11 in the key demo.

Below Conan is Jay Leno's return, which got a 1.5/7 over the course of its four shows during his second debut. However, TV's ever-changing landscape was different enough even just a few years ago to make the numbers difficult to compare to today's metrics: ABC, CBS, and NBC were averaging a 1.1 in 18-49 in the 11:35 hour, whereas today they do a 0.7.

See video: Michelle Obama Hilariously ‘Hand Hugs’ Jimmy Fallon And Will Ferrell in ‘Ew!’ Skit

At the bottom of the stubby pyramid of premiere weeks was 2013's “Jimmy Kimmel Live” timeslot switch, which had a 0.8/4 in the 18-49 demo.

In terms of average audience, the first week order remains the same: Fallon has pulled in 8.4 million per night thus far, Conan opened with a mean 6.4 million, Leno's return averaged 5.8 million and Kimmel rounded to 3.1 million.

The numbers are not a flawless comparison — after all, Fallon has benefited from NBC's Sochi Games coverage, which has led into his first four episodes. To-date, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” has kicked-off at midnight. That will change Friday when the curtain rises for the show's actual timeslot 11:35 p.m., featuring guest Justin Timberlake.

See video: Jay Leno's Tear-Jerker ‘Tonight Show’ Goodbye: ‘I'm the Luckiest Guy in the World’

In defense of Kimmel's seemingly unimpressive numbers: the ABC personality's comparative debut week was a timeslot shift from midnight to the competitive 11:35 p.m. Naturally, the curiosity surrounding brand new hosts and the return of  popular veteran Leno would outweigh that of a move to an earlier shift. Kimmel's first week figures also only incorporate three nights, not four, as his timeslot curtain rose on a Tuesday.

With the asterisks firmly in place, Fallon's real competitive ratings test will begin Monday when the late-night show loses it's Winter Olympics lead-in.

Fallon's Monday guests include Reese Witherspoon, Fred Armisen and musical guest Rick Ross with The Roots. Following “The Tonight Show,” Seth Meyers‘ makes his own debut on “Late Night,” where Armisen serves as bandleader.

For the record: An earlier version of this story referred to Kimmel's original timeslot as 12:35 a.m. ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ previously aired at midnight. TheWrap regrets the error.

  • Ryan

    Kimmel was never at 12:35. Nightline was 30 minutes from 11:35-12:05, which is when Kimmel started. He only moved up a half hour.

  • savvydude

    Fallon is just another left-wing hack. If you really want to see The Tonight Show go to YouTube and watch Johnny Carson's monologues and then you will see how vapid and silly Fallon is. It is truly sad to see how far this show has fallen.

    • mister salty

      ur old

      • savvydude

        You can neither spell or punctuate, which proves you are both uneducated and, by your chosen moniker, are no doubt much older than me. So take this post, print it and look up the words so you can come back with another attempt at communication.

        • Chester

          The proper phrase is “neither … nor” you pretentious dick-lick.

          • Carsonsballs

            He should go choke on Carson's nutsac

          • Toby Boss

            Please pardon me if I may add to Chester for the education of the readers:

            “…both uneducated and and, by your chosen moniker, no doubt much older than I am.”

            1. removed ‘are’ before no (for parallel construction using coordinating conjunction)
            2. changed me to I (so “you are older than I am”)
            3. Optional: You may add a comma after “print it” if you adhere to Harvard or Oxford comma.

          • Matt Perham

            4. Added an extra “and” for God knows what reason.

          • savvydude

            Was I having a conversation with you, Chester? No. Did I invite your homophobic slanders? Uh-uh. Did you insult me? Not in this lifetime. So, go back to your parents basement and play some more video games – that is, until your mommy instructs you to take out the trash.

          • youdontknowitall

            Oh! Get the underwear out of your crack! Savvy!

          • savvydude

            I would but your nose is in the way!

          • youdontknowitall

            Hey–You must write for Jimmy Fallon–Painfully not funny!

          • westseadoc

            Funny retort! … but the come back was well tee'd up for you!!

          • get lost, little baby

            Waah, waaah, waah

        • JenLeo

          I am on the path to a PHD in Psychology, and my husband and I love watching Fallon. Educated Christians can text speak and have a sense of humor. “Eww” refers to an inside joke for watchers of Fallon. Also, I think you forgot Carson was a liberal. Jesus was a liberal too. The Pharisees acted a lot like Fox news posers. Time marches on.

          • youdontknowitall

            And–am I to think just because you are on the path to a Masters, that you have taste? What does your bragging have to do with anything. People that try to tell you that they are smart, usually are NOT!

          • JohnSmith

            Is that a PHD or a PhD? Be careful of those diploma mills.

          • savvydude

            When 60 Minutes did a story on Johnny Carson in the 90's , Carson said he had voted for Ronald Reagan. As for Jesus, I didn't know he was involved in the American political system, but liberals always love to insert him into it.

          • Prodijy

            Jesus’ message was about love…thats pretty liberal, also very hippie.

          • Alex Strang

            Hey Prodigy, Love is neither left nor right. It's universal.

          • Prodijy

            Um…thats my point…try reading the comments before you post buddy.

          • westseadoc

            Ewwww! You were doing great until you just couldn't resist attacking Fox News. It's not that I am a fan of Fox; I just find it tiresome that Left Wing pundits have to attack the boogeyman of Fox to bolster their arguments. It not only begs the question, or more accurately attacks ad hominem .. if you have good points, and you do, leave it at that. You clearly have more intellectual currency in your account, such that you need not appear bankrupt by such simplistic advocacy.

        • youdontknowitall

          You should check YOUR English–before you attack someone else–idiot!

        • get lost, little baby

          Yes, we can all safely assume that a guy named “savvydude” is a little baby. Your inept wailings only confirm.

          • savvydude

            You are repeating yourself, which is the first sign of dementia. Get help quickly. As for being a baby, well, babies are cute and innocent and playful – thanks for the compliment!

          • get lost little baby

            It is you repeating the same crazed babble.

            Sorry to burst your repetitive hateful bubble, but I'm probably younger than you. How long you going to rely on age trashing instead of making a valid point, huh little baby?

            Babies cry and are sh*t machines. That is you.

        • Jr

          it's “older than I” you pathetic child…

        • westseadoc

          You might be careful about using punctuation to determine the intellectual worth of an adversary, since your punctuation is erroneous. That being said, debate by insult and character assassination is a piss poor technique devoid of intellectual content and sophistication; upon that we can agree.

      • supernerd


        • ryan

          Carson was the best but he's gone. Fallon has been a great replacement and should be compared toto the annoying Jay Leno who hosted for nearly 24 years.

          • youdontknowitall

            Funny–Annoying is the exact word I think of when I watch Fallon!

      • youdontknowitall

        ur ignorant and a jerk!

      • youdontknowitall

        u r an idiot!

    • Mike Taylor

      Time to bed, Grandpa. You old “get off my lawn” loser.

      • savvydude

        Oh, so I touched a nerve with a lib. Nice try, but you are the old, bitter fools who can't see that the nation is turning against your crapola. Fallon won't save you – in fact, nothing will.

        • B rocka

          Tonight show is a chance for people to meet some of their favorite stars. It isn't(shouldn't be :-/ ) a totally right or left wing show. It's a meet and greet, slash Comedy /Informative show; that's what up. Paritisans…discrimatories….. go elsewhere.

        • dahdahh

          he had mitt romney on his show, he is not exclusive. gosh, go fuck another dude and then deny gay people a right to marry

      • Ty

        Gee, that's such an original insult. This is the same level of comedy as this stinker of a show.

        Also, try that kind of discrimination against a black person or a gay person. Who the heck are you to trash older people, you low life bubblehead.

    • Spencer Steel

      I am getting to the end of the 18-49 demo – old enough to have watched Carson when it was still a 90-minute show, and he was a spectacular talent. Jimmy Fallon . . . . is also a spectacular talent. Carson was plenty silly, as the Carnac and Floyd R. Turbo sketches will attest, and that silliness was both endearing and funny, like Fallon. Fallon doesn't have Carson's monologue skills, which is like saying some great pitcher doesn't have Nolan Ryan's fastball, but there are a lot more similarities between the two than differences, and I look forward to being entertained by The Tonight Show – something that hasn't happened in 22 years.

      • oh, please

        Oh please. Carson was only funny and endearing when silly because he had substance otherwise. It was the contrast that was amusing. Fallon just looks like a desperate court jester dancing as fast as he can for people stupid enough to buy this slop as a quality show.

    • SadForRepubs

      I don't understand why republicans are always defensive about any thoughts that don't match theirs. Not everything/one is a political slam against your ideology! This is what makes your kind sound like fascists!

      • This show just sucks.

        I don't care about politics. This show just sucks.

        The imbeciles who rely on age bashing to feel important are no different than those they bash for ranting politics.

        • youdontknowitall

          I totally agree with you! I happem to lean a bit more lib than con–but one thing for sure–FALLON IS NOT FUNNY!

          • westseadoc

            I personally think he is very funny but isn't everyone's cup of tea. I think he is seeing how well his humor on Late Night translates to the Tonight Show .. it is a different time slot and a different demographic. He is a very hard worker and will adapt his humor more to his audience; but no matter what, he will lose viewers as well as gain new converts. Jay Leno had the same experience and many of his fans were big detractors when he started out. Let's give him a little time to “clock some field time.”

      • westseadoc

        Hmmmm. I'm no Republican but when it comes to being defensive about any thoughts that don't match theirs, I don't think that Republicans own exclusive rights in this exercise. (MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, Keith Oberman, really? They match Hannity in their narrow mindedness and self importance.) Democrats more than hold their own in being overly sensitive. One problem is that when I disagree with a Republican, he/she tells me I'm going to hell, but when I disagree with a Democrat, I'm told I'm stupid and demonized as being selfish, inconsiderate, and stupid … none of which is true and I find vilification by Democrats more personal and infuriating that that of the Republicans.

    • Trinigurl98

      Those who reject change is the architect of decay. Johnny and Jay had their time. Just like parents who were up in arms with Elvis and The Beatles performances. Now why you choose to bring politics into this I can only guess. Probably because you're a teabagger who blame all the ills of society on Democrats and wish for the good old days of segregation. …I wish I was in Dixie…

      • savvydude

        Reject change? Oh, so all change is good, right? If you were only simply aware you would know that Fallon interjects politics consistently and only from the left-wing. But since you used the term ‘teabagger’ you have shown you are a member of the cult of Obama with no insight beyond that.

        • get lost little baby

          This is the ranting of schizophrenic. Who can make sense of this

    • Prodijy

      Lol, what are you talking about you right wing asylum tenant…this is entertainment not politics…go back to the asylum you old bi-polar freak.

    • westseadoc

      I'm a big fan of Johnny but you have to admit, his show suffered considerably in his last couple of years as he took more and more time off and was less and less devoted to his show. Jay was fresh for his time, and I liked his interaction with his guests, but he was getting a little stale and tiresome in the last year without much new (or any) new material. Jimmy is highly talented and will bring a fresh perspective and some is even reminiscent of the old “Mighty Carson Art Players.” I think he is being respectful of his guests and I've seen little overarching political commentary. In fact, Jay did much more in his monologues and shows that has Jimmy (but it is only 1 week). I'd give it a chance to grow on you. Time moves forward for all of us.

  • youdontknowitall

    The Tonight show is not good, period! All this Lorne Michaels hype is overdone. Jimmy Fallon is more “look at me”, than talent. I suspect after the Olympics and aff the BIG press he is getting–Fallon will fall back to Earth with a giantic THUD! His showvis terrible!

    • JeanMa

      You got that right! Putting Seinfeld on just showed how far from funny Fallon and Whig really are…and I think Leno is younger than the mastermind of this crap–Lorne Michaels…so much for getting rid of grandpa!

      • youdontknowitall

        Thanks! I know that I am not the only one that feels that way. The “mastermind” of this so called “youth” movenent is one of the oldest fogeys in TV. Saturday Night Live, died along time ago. How Lorne Michaels took over NBC Late Night is beyond me. He has gone in and put his silly mimions in and made NBC.offer no cancel contracts. NBC has to be the stupidest network there is–no wonder they are stuck in 5th place!

  • Wendy McDaniel

    Jimmy Fallon is AWESOME and is doing a great job!!!! The Tonight show is funnier and more entertaining with him at the helm. I enjoy watching him play games and act out skits with his guest.

    • zzzzz

      Hi Jimmy's mom or staff

      • Trinigurl98

        I'm not his mom or a member of his staff AND I love him AND his show. Now zzzzz on baby.

        • siggle2349

          No, you're just a dope. Baby.

    • Prodijy

      Yeah, you sound like his mom, lol.

    • Bob White

      Fallon practices all day to beat some hapless half buzzed actress in beer pong and then celebrates like a Super Bowl winner. Lame

  • Johnno66

    The Tonight Show, like SNL, is already dead and doesn't know it. Younger consumers simply have more choices in how they digest their content and don't need their comedy served to them at a fixed time by some half funny partisan hack.

    • Stephen Yount

      the barbershop quartet bit was hilarious. the best late night host is in the eye of the beholder. but we all know Johnny will always be king till the end of time…..

      • westseadoc

        I'm a big fan of Johnny Carson but he has been annointed based on a body of work in a very specific segment of time. It is romantic to look back and see history as gauzy and unparalleled. This is understandable but not really accurate.

    • Just Me

      Yeah, younger consumers have elsewhere to go – which is why younger consumers are at an all time high in tuning in. Bonehead.

      • Johnno66

        Educating yourself would help you avoid sounding so ignorant. Try Googling The Tonight Show's and SNL's viewership today as a share of the market vs their numbers from 1979 or even a decade ago.

        I'll grant you this, if you are going to spout fiction as fact, at least you had the gravitas to punctuate your bogus claim with the word “bonehead”. Perhaps YOU should be in comedy.

        • Just Me

          Nice try Buckwheat. You cannot compare stats laterally from today to decade(s) ago. Too many things have changed. Take 2 seconds and read the article above, as well as checking straight ratings in the 18-49 demographic. They are up across the board my witless friend. Short bus is here – put your helmet on it's time to go home.

          • zip it, junior

            The article only addresses premiere week comparisons of the last few years, so zip your stupid babble, junior.

          • youdontknowitall

            I just love the way that some people just discovered being young. Hold on to the bar–TIGHTLY– Your youth will be gome in a flash! I hope you haven't burned all your bridges, being so high and mighty!

          • Johnno66

            Well gee, if you refuse to compare stats from any previous season against this season, or even look at the overall trend, I guess you could claim that viewership is up. After all, you are comparing it to nothing at all.

            More irony with the “short bus” comment. Keep it coming genius.

        • westseadoc

          Judgment is a bit premature .. on both sides, ya’ think. I'd give Jimmy time to evolve a bit, then compare viewing patterns and demographics, etc. The fact is, the game has changed as a consequence of the internet and cable TV, but it doesn't seriously diminish the relevance of public TV viewership.

  • Just Me

    So tired of this site and most others contributing the ratings to an “Olympic lead in”. It's an outright lie. Everywhere outside of New York (Eastern), the Tonight Show does not come on until after the local news. 30 minutes after Olympic coverage ends. Get it right, fools.

    • youdontknowitall

      Give a look back in two months, when the dew is off Fallon–and see where he is ranked then!

      • westseadoc

        That's fair and what is good for the goose is sauce for the gander!

  • DougMilb

    Watched a few episodes this week and Fallon was just awful, or maybe his writers are to blame. I can't believe NBC would just sabotage it's 11:30 slot like that by booting Jay. Looks like Kimmel will be the new king of Late Night.

    • westseadoc

      I suspect it a lot the fault of his writers and that if his numbers drop off precipitously, he might reach out to Jay for advice. They seem to be on good terms. Jay understood that sometimes you have to move out the established stallion to make room for the younger stud before you lose that talent to another ranch. Jay's willingness to step aside was full of sarcasm but I don't get the feeling that he wishes Jimmy any ill will and seems to understand the reason and timing for this move more than the other time. In addition, Jimmy seems to have a genuine affection and respect for Jay that Conan CLEARlY did not (even before the forced change).

      • Poignantlewbs

        Knowing how Jay is now how can you respect him?

  • Dmanny8

    Loved Jimmy Fallon on Late night, but this tonight show is bombing badly. It just seems awful and I don't know why. I think people need to let him know why people watch late night. Jay Leno was number 1 because his monologues were the best among the bunch, and he managed to include solid segments like headlines. Ultimately Fallon will crush IF he doesn't improve the monologue, they were terrible this week. And no I am not old. In my 20's.

  • TVNewserEr

    Show aired at 11:30 Friday – NOT 11:35 as you state. And, really, Tonight starts at 11:34 normally.

    • Ben

      Who cares what others are watching. If you like Fallon watch. If you don't then don't watch.

  • Boycott ageism and cheap shows

    This show was nothing more than a cheat to viewers disguised as a call to target younger viewers (Leno was getting young viewers – he got all demographics.)

    The Fallon program is done on the cheap compared to Leno. It's all about a fat corporation seeing how low they can go and further fatten the bottom line. Comcast doesn't want to say they are giving viewers marked down entertainment – as offensive as ageism is, they figure it's better than telling viewers they are getting a cheap show. Those who watch are buffoons who don't know any better (mostly the stupid useless unemployed no-money millenials.) Those who see this show for what it is are nobody's fool.

    For people offended by the campaign of age bashing, and the ever cheapening of television content, make your voice heard by boycotting advertisers.

    Check out who sponsors the Fallon program and boycott those companies and make it known until this age bashing and disrespect towards the demographic that can actually buy their products ends.

    It doesn't even have to be a formal boycott. Just boycott it and let it be known.

  • Prodijy

    Remember when Leno was on at 10:00, advertiser's were in an uproar because his ratings were awful. What a difference an hour and a half made.

  • Bob White

    Rename the show to what it is: The Jimmy Fallon Review.

  • chicagoCabbie

    Watched one time, thats it, the Gong Show died years ago, why would NBC think you could run it again 5 days a week?

  • Hennessy Levine

    The idea of talk shows themselves seems boring to me.

  • Eric Quintero

    Jimmy Fallon is a shill for the Obambam administration. Dude has no balls.

    Jay Leno has some massive balls, good jokes and possibly the best car collection ever.

    Jay Leno's constant criticism of our tyrannical president got him fired. The mainstream media is all full of s h i t.

    • maniacbum

      You got your tinfoil hat ready?

      • Eric Quintero

        You take your stupid pills this morning?

        • StupidPills

          Did you?

  • Bill Smith

    it sounds like I'm the only one that likes Jay Leno

    • FatAlberto

      Yeah, you are.

  • Alex Strang

    I can't see how this a political topic in anyway. Ive watched Fallon a few times so far and I just think he's terrible, that's all. This is about comedy. And TV trends. Seems to me he just plays party games with guests and doesn't know what to do with himself. The writing is just dreadful. Let me be clear: It doesn't matter how popular something might seem, that's doesn't mean it's good. And Hollywood churns out whatever it wants and can manipulate trends so you THINK you have a choice but you don't. They can clam something's ‘hot’ if they want, and that message will spin. Case in point: whatever kids-friendly movie is out that week will do well because parents with kids who want to see a movie have limited choices. It's easy for any kids movie to succeed. It's all in the timing. Fallon (or whoever) is in that latenight slot will get certain ratings based on extraneous factors: 1. People settle down late around that time, and just want to watch something simple right before they go to sleep. Doesn't matter if it's good or not. 2. sadly, some of these people get their NEWS from latenight comedians. 3. Even though Fallon is younger (a silly attempt to appeal to younger viewers) the TV medium itself is in peril, especially for kids, who have better entertainment and more interactive options.

  • Luke

    I know I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this, but Conan was and will always be the best ‘Late Night’ host. When he went on the ‘Tonight Show’ his material went on the decline very quickly. You would see typical Conan moments here and there on the ‘Tonight Show', but now that he is with TBS nothing seems to be holding Conan back and I love it.

    • Conando

      I actually feel that he really sucks at the 11 – 12 time slot. It's the fact that at 12:35am nobody at NBC cared what he so he had the guts to play around with stuff. Now, at an early time, he has to watch what he does. Just like when he hosted the Tonight Show. Things have become less funny with Conan after giving up the Late Night shift.


    Bring Jay Leno BAAAACK! Fallon is NOT funny, he is juvenile and jumpy…I think he is a super nice guy tho. I just cant stand that show anymore. Its nerve wracking!

  • missy9205

    Jimmy Fallon seems like a really nice guy but Leno was a real talent NBC blew it.

    • maniacbum

      What? Leno was garbage

      • Jim Smith

        I guess Jay was garbage that's why his ratings were so high everyone hated him. your post of garbage all of them!

        • JigsawPizza

          No, it's just that all the old people fell asleep watching the news before Leno started.

  • maniacbum

    jay leno was unfunny garbage.. good riddance, for the first time since carson the tonight show is funny again

  • Weihan Xingqi

    He's neither funny nor interesting. He has all the charisma of a peeled peach.

  • Jesstin02

    Kimmel will always be my preference. Fallon seems so fake, like he is trying so hard to be funny.

  • Frank

    Jimmy Fallon adds nothing to the Tonight Show. All he did was move his stupid show to a different time slot. We quit watching.

  • Joe Doorman

    Fallon is like the michael jordon of late night hosts..
    the man can do anything… he makes every guest better.
    he sounded more like billy joel than billy joel
    the guy is knocking it out of the park every night
    … i don't think he can keep it up.. he's gonna give himself a heart attack
    the show has incredible energy
    and its all because of him