Jay 2.0: No. 1 Again — But He’s No Coco (updated)

Weeks of hype help Jay return to first place. But will it last?

Last Updated: March 2, 2010 @ 4:18 PM

UPDATE 10:55 PM

National demo numbers show Jay Leno beating David Letterman in young demos — but not nearly as dramatically as early ratings suggested.

"Tonight 2.0" averaged a 1.6 rating in adults 18-49, beating Letterman (1.1) and ABC’s "Nightline" (1.3). That’s still a 45 percent margin of victory, but down from the top 25 markets, where Jay beat Dave 2 to 1.

In viewers, the race was much more of a runaway win for Team Jay. "Tonight" averaged 6.6 million viewers vs Letterman’s 3.8 million and "Nightline’s" 4.1 million. That’s a 73 percent margin of victory for Leno.

At 12:35 a.m., Jimmy Fallon celebrated a year on the air by returning to first place, averaging a 0.7 to Craig Ferguson’s 0.5, according to Nielsen fast national data. In viewers, it was Jimmy 2.1 million, Craiggers 1.8 million.

While interesting, these numbers are just the opening salvo in the latest late-night skirmish. Expect some settling in over the next few weeks — with no real clear sign of whether Leno will once again be a consistent No. 1 at 11:35 until May.

ORIGINAL POST

Jay Leno was a dominant first place in his return to "The Tonight Show" Monday, with weeks of Olympics promotion (and no doubt plenty of rubberneckers) helping return the Chin to his late-night throne.

The Leno reboot averaged a 2.0 rating/9 share in adults 18-49,  while David Letterman’s "Late Show" scored a 1.0/4 in the same 25 cities with overnight demo information.

These are early numbers, but they should be predictive of how things will shape up when fast national demo information is released later Monday.

This early look suggests Jay didn’t face any sort ot viewer backlash in his first night back on the (old) job.

But Leno also didn’t score any supersize demos, either: Conan O’Brien’s swan song on "Tonight" a few weeks ago averaged a 4.8 in the demo. And Leno’s May "Tonight" finale fake-out earned a 3.4 in the demo.

In the broader 56-market overnight household numbers, "Tonight" earned a 5.4/14 vs. a 3.0/8 for "Late Show" and a 3.4/8 for "Nightline" (which had a report on pedophiles!).

Developing…