In franchise history, Friday's 6.6 million viewers is only eclipsed by David Letterman's 1993 goodbye episode
Jimmy Fallon’s final night hosting his version of “Late Night” set series records for the largest overall audience on any night of the week and highest ratings for a regularly scheduled episode.
The goodbye hour reeled in the largest audience — 6.6 million viewers — for the “Late Night” franchise since Letterman's exit episode on June 25, 1993 (7.5 million). It also earned the highest rating return in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic for a regularly scheduled telecast since 2004, with a 2.2.
Fallon received a boost from an especially strong and strategic lead-in: the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony on NBC. The 2.2 rating for the 12:05-1:05 a.m. ET telecast is second only to Feb. 5, 2012's post-Super Bowl “Late Night.” Friday's “Fallon” topped the 2012 special in viewers.
Guests on “Late Night” Friday included Andy Samberg and musical guest The Muppets.
Jay Leno's final “Tonight Show” put up its own huge numbers the night before. At the time, Fallon's program, which followed, set new marks — though they lasted all of one day.
Fallon officially takes over “The Tonight Show” on Feb. 17, when his first guests will be Will Smith and U2. Seth Meyers opens his “Late Night” career one week later with guest Amy Poehler.