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THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON Shows Solid Debut; Brings TONIGHT's Most-Watched Week in 20 Years

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With Friday's telecast of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" delivering the show's highest ratings since Monday's series premiere, Fallon has generated strong viewer sampling throughout his week of post-Olympic telecasts.

For the full week, "Tonight" averaged 8.490 million viewers overall, making it the most-watched week of "The Tonight Show" in 20 years (since the week of the "Cheers" finale, May 17-21, 1993, 9.080 million), despite four of this week's five telecasts being moved to midnight ET start times due to Olympic overruns.

The 8.490 million viewers for the week is up 112% versus "Tonight's" prior season-to-date average of 4.011 million through Feb. 9. And note that "Tonight" has been delivering one of its strongest seasons in years, with the 4.011 million average up 15% versus one year earlier and "Tonight's" biggest audience through 20 weeks of the season in five years.

In adults 18-49, Fallon's premiere week averaged a 2.8 rating, the show's best figure in nine years (since Jan. 24-28, 2005, the week of a special tribute to Johnny Carson, 2.8) and matching "Tonight's" best weekly rating in nearly 10 years (since May 3-7, 2004, the week of the "Friends" finale, 3.0).

Friday's 11:30 p.m. ET edition of "Tonight," featuring guest Justin Timberlake, grew versus the prior night's midnight telecast to post the show's strongest results since Monday's series premiere. The Feb. 21 telecast averaged a 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.778 million viewers overall to generate the show's third consecutive night-to-night gain in adults 18-49.

Friday's 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 is up 12% versus Thursday's 2.6, up 21% versus Wednesday's 2.4 and up 26% versus Tuesday's 2.3. The total viewership of 8.778 million is up 14% versus Thursday's 7.688 million and up 21% versus Wednesday's 7.274 million.

The week's track in adults 18-49 is: 3.8, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.9; and in total viewers, the track is: 11.314 million, 7.366 million, 7.274 million, 7.688 million, 8.778 million. Friday's 8.778 million viewers overall is up 119% versus "Tonight's" prior season average in total viewers (4.011 million).

Meanwhile, in preliminary time period-based affiliate "live plus three day" results, time-shifted viewing has boosted Monday's premiere from a 3.8 rating to a 4.9 in adults 18-49.

That makes it the second-best Monday "Tonight Show" in L+3 in the history of Nielsen's current People Meter sample, and highest Monday in the nearly 22 years since Jay Leno's debut on "The Tonight Show," May 25, 1992 (7.6).

Also in L+3, The Feb. 6 finale of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" grew to a 4.4 rating in these preliminary time period-based affiliate L+3 results, up from its 3.8 in "live plus same day" ratings. That makes Leno's finale the top-rated Thursday "Tonight Show" in L+3 in nearly 10 years, dating back to the pre-DVR era with the night of the "Friends" finale (May 6, 2004, 6.0).


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