Jay Leno’s Final ‘Tonight Show’ Draws Most Viewers Since ‘Seinfeld’ Finale Night

Jimmy Fallon reels in most regularly scheduled “Late Night” viewers since David Letterman’s 1993 final episode

Last Updated: August 4, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

Jay Leno’s final “Tonight Show” brought in the franchise’s most viewers since May 14, 1998 — the night of NBC’s “Seinfeld” finale.

The 1998 show, on which Seinfeld appeared as a guest, brought in 15 million viewers.

Thursday’s farewell earned a 3.8 rating in the advertiser-sought adults 18-49 demographic. The number makes Leno’s curtain call the top “Tonight Show” since Jan. 22, 2010, which was Conan O’Brien’s last night hosting the show (4.4).

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

The top four telecasts in Leno’s “Tonight Show” history are May 20, 1993 (“Cheers” finale, 22.4 million), May 25, 1992 (Leno’s debut, 16.1 million), May 14, 1998 (“Seinfeld” finale, 15.0 million) and now Feb. 6, 2014 (Leno’s final telecast, 14.6 million). Note: This list excludes a brief post-Olympic telecast in 1996.

Stopping by “The Tonight Show” to wish Leno farewell were Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Black, Carol Burnett, Sheryl Crow, Jim Parsons, Kim Kardashian and Chris Paul.

Appearing in taped messages were Jimmy Fallon, Bob Costas, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Sheen and President Barack Obama.

See video: Jay Leno’s ‘Tonight Show’ Exit: 8 Ways the Comedic Car Nut Can Spend His Free Time

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” followed last night’s “Tonight Show” with 6 million viewers overall — the show’s biggest audience since a special 11:56 p.m. ET telecast on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 — which averaged 6.1 million viewers.

Counting only regularly scheduled weekday telecasts of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” the 6 million mark is the biggest overall audience for the franchise since June 25, 1993, when David Letterman hosted episode his final night (7.5 million).

See video: Jay Leno Jabs NBC in Final ‘Tonight Show’ Monologue: ‘I Don’t Like Goodbyes – NBC Does’ 

In they advertiser-coveted demo, last night’s “Late Night” scored a 2.0, the second-best 18-49 rating ever for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” behind the aforementioned post-Super Bowl telecast.

“Late Night” welcomed Colin Farrell, Chris Pratt and musical guest 2 Chainz on Thursday.

Fallon takes over “The Tonight Show” on Feb. 17, when his first guests will be Will Smith and U2.


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