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Leno Ratings: 17.7 Million Viewers, Decent Demos

NBC’s primetime experiment starts strong. But will Leno skew older than the Peacock would prefer?

Jay Leno got plenty of sampling Monday night with his new NBC primetime show — especially among older viewers– drawing roughly 17.7 million viewers a 5.1 rating/13 share in adults 18-49. according to preliminary fast national data from Nielsen.


The disparity between the huge overall number and the strong, but not amazing demo rate, indicates Leno is drawing an older audience than usual primetime fare. Indeed, among adults over 50, the NBC show notched a massive 10.8 rating —  a number that would make CBS sales people faint from happiness.


A number that will no doubt delight local affiliates: 6.2/15. That’s what Leno scored with adults 25-54, the demo most important for news ratings. At least on Monday, many NBC stations were probably very happy to have Leno at 10.


There was also clearly some curiousity tune-in: Leno lost several hundred thousand viewers at the half-hour (but built a tad in the demo).


Giving Leno a big boost: Strong tune-in for one of the final episodes of "America’s Got Talent," which in its final half-hour (9:30-10 p.m.) drew well over 15 million viewers. That’s a lead-in Leno is unlikely to get from, say, "Trauma."


By comparison, last year, NBC’s "My Own Worst Enemy" earned a 3.0 demo rating/8 share and 7.3 million viewers in the 10 p.m. Monday slot. It premiered in mid-October, opposite tougher competition than Leno faced last night.


NBC kicked off Mondays last September with a two-hour "Heroes," which averaged a 4.9/12 in the demo and 9.9 million viewers.


Of course, "Heroes" and "My Own" were both much more expensive to produce per hour than Leno.


Also having a great night: The CW, which saw strong tune-in for "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl."


"GG," in its new 9 p.m. slot, notched its best women 18-34 number (3.3/8) since last December and matched its 2008 fall debut.