Fallon's First Week Reigns as 'Tonight's Most-Watched in 20 Years

Average of 8.5 million viewers best for late night show since week of 'Cheers' finale
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Jimmy Fallon's first week as host of The Tonight Show averaged 8.5 million viewers, the most for the late night talker since the week of the Cheers finale in May 1993.

The 8.5 million viewers for the week is up 112% over Tonight’s prior season-to-date average of 4.01 million through Feb. 9. With adults 18-49, Fallon’s premiere week averaged a 2.8 rating, matching the show’s best performance in that demo since January 2005, the week of a special tribute to former host Johnny Carson.

Friday's show, the first to air at Tonight's regular 11:35 p.m. time slot, drew the show's best numbers since Monday's debut with 8.78 million viewers and a 2.9 rating in the adults 18-49 demo.

All week long, Tonight aired at midnight following NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, which regularly drew upwards of 20 million viewers. NBC scheduled many high profile guests for Fallon's first week, including Will Smith, Will Ferrell, Michelle Obama and Justin Timberlake. The star-studded lineup helped Fallon easily outpace his new competition in David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel all week, despite attempts from CBS and ABC to program against it.

Monday's Letterman featured the cast of How I Met Your Mother reading his "Top Ten" list and Kimmel premiered the trailer for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy on Tuesday. Kimmel also had his "Wolf in the Hall" Olympic stunt revealed on his show.

Next week will be Fallon's first without the Olympics as lead in. It will be also be the first with NBC's new late night lineup, as Seth Meyers debuts his version of Late Night on Monday.

(Photo credit: Lloyd Bishop/NBC)

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