TheWrap.com, Published February 07 2014
Early reports say Leno's last 'Tonight Show' earns best ratings since 2009
Last night, Leno averaged a 9.2 rating/22 share in households in the 56 markets metered that Nielsen measures, though the Philadelphia market is excluded. Those numbers are his best since March 19, 2009 – the night that President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to appear on a late-night talk show (11.3/26).
After Jay’s goodbye, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” followed with its highest rating ever, a 4.6/15 in metered-market households. That tops the prior record of a 4.2/12 with a special 11:56 p.m. ET telecast on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. The 4.6 is also the highest for the “Late Night” franchise since “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” earned a 4.6/20 on Thursday, May 14, 1998 — the night of the “Seinfeld” finale.
Guests on “Tonight” Thursday included Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks, with appearances by 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.
Colin Farrell, Chris Pratt and musical guest 2 Chainz appeared on Fallon’s Thursday episode.
Heading in Leno’s final week, “The Tonight Show” was averaging a 2.8/7 in the very early metric. “Late Night” was averaging a 1.5 rating in the metered-market households. Both shows more than tripled their prior averages on Thursday.
Fast-official national ratings for “Tonight” and “Late Night” are expected later today.