As expected, the premiere of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” drew a big audience Monday night (Feb. 17), matching Jay Leno‘s recent farewell among younger viewers and giving Fallon his biggest audience ever as a talk-show host.
Monday’s show, featuring Will Smith, U2 and a parade of celebrity cameos, drew 11.3 million viewers — below the 14.6 million who watched Leno’s last episode on Feb. 6 but well above the 6.6 million who tuned in for Fallon’s final “Late Night” on Feb. 7. Both that show and his “Tonight” debut aired at midnight ET and followed NBC’s Olympics coverage and local news.
Among adults 18-49, “The Tonight Show” scored a 3.8 rating on Monday, tying Leno’s final show as the best for the franchise since Conan O’Brien‘s 2010 swan song. By all measures, “Tonight” was the second most-watched show on TV Monday night, behind NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage.
One night, of course, hardly even begins to tell the story of what Fallon’s “Tonight Show” tenure might be like in terms of ratings. For the 2013-14 season so far, “Tonight” is averaging a little above 4 million viewers and a 1.0 in the 18-49 demographic.