Final Ratings: Jimmy Fallon Drew the 4th-Smallest ‘Tonight Show’ TV Audience Ever on Monday (Updated)

Colbert more than doubled NBC competition’s viewer total

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 7
Courtesy of NBC

Updated on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 11:35 a.m. PT with final Nielsen data: Monday’s “Tonight Show” drew the fourth-smallest audience ever for an original episode of the show, according to Nielsen’s final ratings. Jimmy Fallon averaged 1.063 million total viewers from 11:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. PT.

All three of the late-night franchise’s smaller TV audiences came last year. On Aug. 18, 2020, Fallon had 1.004 million total viewers. On Aug. 20, he got 1.061 million. The all-time low came on Sept. 25, when “The Tonight Show” fell below 1 million viewers for the first and only time ever in Nielsen’s final ratings, posting just 992,000 total viewers. The start to that particular episode was a bit delayed due to an NHL Stanley Cup Finals game.

Stephen Colbert’s Monday “Late Show” on CBS averaged 2.266 million total viewers, according to the final figures that came in on Wednesday. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” averaged 1.984 million.

Historical Nielsen data only dates back to 1986, though it is safe to say that Johnny Carson never flirted with a six-figure viewer total in his very different era. (Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1992. Jay Leno took over in ’92.)

It’s been a rough stretch for Fallon — even before the coronavirus pandemic struck U.S. shores.

Fallon used to be the king of late night, but Colbert first passed him in mid-November 2018. The “Colbert Report” alum went on to win that season.

On Monday, Fallon welcomed guests Bill Burr, Rashida Jones and musical guest Old Dominion. Segments included “Life Coach” with Burr and Fallon’s solo gag “Go On, Git.”

Last night, Colbert interviewed Chris Rock and aired a performance by singer Joss Stone. Over on “Kimmel,” the guests were “This Is Us Star” Milo Ventimiglia and CNN’s Jake Tapper, with Queen Naija as musical guest.

Readers can watch Fallon’s Monday monologue below. Up front, Fallon addressed President Trump being permanently banned from Twitter and other social-media platforms.

Find Monday’s primetime ratings here. ABC won that day part.

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that Monday’s episode averaged the smallest-ever audience in “Tonight Show” history, according to fast-affiliate Nielsen numbers. The preliminary data set did not fully represent the show’s 11:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. time slot.)


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