Going Out With a Bang


Jay Leno left with a ratings bang. His last show on Thursday night pulled in his biggest audience in 15 years. 

TV By the Numbers says that In fast-official ratings for Thursday night:

  • Jay Leno has concluded his run as host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” by delivering the show’s biggest overall audience in more than 15 years, since May 1998.
  • Leno averaged 14.637million viewers overall and a 3.8 rating in adults 18-49 in fast-official “live plus same day” ratings from Nielsen Media Research, representing the biggest “Tonight” overall audience since May 14, 1998, the night of the “Seinfeld” finale when Jerry Seinfeld appeared as a guest on the show (14.962 million).  In adults 18-49, the 3.8 rating is the top “Tonight” since Jan. 22, 2010, Conan O’Brien’s last night hosting the show (4.4).  The 18-49 rating is the highest for a Thursday “Tonight” since March 19, 2009 (appearance by President Barack Obama, 3.8).
  • The average audience of 14.6 million is the fourth biggest ever for a “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”  The top four telecasts in total viewers 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 Feb. 6, 2014 (Leno’s final telecast, 14.6 million) (list excludes a brief post-Olympic telecast in 1996).
  • The final “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was up 283%, nearly tripling the show’s season average in total viewers, 3.822 million (“live plus same day”) heading into this week, and last night’s 3.8 rating quadrupled the show’s season average in adults 18-49 (3.8 vs. 0.9, L+SD).
  • “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” followed the “Tonight Show” with 6.014 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 6.087 million viewers.