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 last night's "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.
Counting just regularly scheduled weekday telecasts of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," the 6.0 million is a series record and is the biggest overall audience for the "Late Night" franchise since June 25, 1993 (the final David Letterman-hosted episode, 7.521 million).
In adults 18-49, last night's "Late Night" scored a 2.0, the second-best 18-49 rating ever for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," behind the post-Super Bowl telecast on Feb. 5, 2012. It was the highest-ever regularly schedule Fallon-hosted "Late Night."
Fallon's 2.0 more than tripled the show's 0.6 season average in adults 18-49 heading into this week and last night's telecast was up 215% versus the "Late Night" season average of 1.909 million in total viewers (L+SD).
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.
The Feb. 6 edition of "Late Night" featured Colin Farrell, Chris Pratt and musical guest 2 Chainz.
NOTE: All ratings are "live plus same day" from Nielsen Media Research unless otherwise indicated.