How Jimmy Fallon's Debut Week On 'Tonight Show' Measured Up

The show had a similar feel to Fallon's "Late Night" and when it came to ratings he came out on top.
Posted at 6:55 PM, Feb 22, 2014

It was Jimmy Fallon’s first week hosting “The Tonight Show.” So, how did he measure up to his competitors? Apparently, really well.

Audience: “Wooo”

Will Farrell: “Will Farrell”

Michelle Obama: “Ew”

Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake: “I love it when you call me big papa, throw your hands in the air, if you’re a true player.” (Via NBC)


Fallon packed the his show's first week full of big names, from Michelle Obama to Justin Timberlake, who wrapped up the week by putting the History of Rap on display. (Via NBC)

The show had a similar feel to Fallon’s “Late Night” show back in his old time slot. And his ratings were strong, topping Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show" 2009 debut and both of his new rivals.

Thursday, Fallon brought in brought in more viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic than Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman combined. Fallon drew almost 7.7 million viewers compared to Letterman's 2.6 million and Kimmel's 2.4. (Via TVbytheNumbers, ABC, CBS)

 But a writer at The Wrap says those ratings are hard to compare fairly because of how quickly TV changes. “(Fallon's) done quite well in Week 1 compared to competitors’ premiere weeks, but the real ratings test will start Monday when the show loses its Olympics lead-in.”

In addition to losing the Olympics boost, The Globe and Mail says Fallon might eventually face another problem — how nice he is.

The writer says late night TV is the place for occasionally biting satire but that so far Fallon has only showed he’s really good at gushing over guests and being adorable.

An interesting approach so far, but it may just be a first-week thing. If it isn’t The Washington Post has some advice for competitors.

“If they’re smart, Fallon’s competitors will amp up their talents for cynicism and a style of pushback that extends beyond parody.”

In his first week, Fallon also proved to have an impressive amount of viewers return to the show after the first night. Businessweek reports Monday about 11 million viewers tuned in to the show and an estimated three-quarters of them returned Tuesday night.