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Leno's return to late night draws 6.6-million viewers and lands him in first place


Jay Leno returned as host of NBC's "Tonight Show" with jokes about Tiger Woods and Dick Cheney that made it seem like he never left.

There are millions of ways to spin Leno's numbers. Almost three weeks of heavy Olympics promotion, not to mention all the attention around NBC's late-night soap opera, meant there would be a lot of curiosity and sampling. Having Olympic star Lindsey Vonn as a guest probably didn't hurt either. 

At the same time, it's not like people don't know what they're getting when they tune into Leno's shows.

In other words, let's just look at the numbers and not go too far down the road of what does this all mean just yet.

Leno averaged 6.6-million viewers on Monday night, beating CBS' David Letterman, who averaged 3.8 million, and ABC's "Nightline," which drew 4.1-million viewers, per Nielsen. Among adults ages 18 to 49, Leno was first with a 1.6 rating, followed by "Nightline" with a 1.3 and Letterman's 1.1 rating. Each rating point equals 1.3-million viewers in that demographic. For what it's worth, Letterman was up in adults 18 to 49 Monday night.

Having digested those numbers, now we can go a little ways down the road. Leno's 6.6-million viewers were fewer than Conan O'Brien averaged in his premiere and in his final show. However, in between Conan's first and last shows, he averaged 2.7-million viewers and a 1.1 among adults 18 to 49. In other words, Leno can take a big hit in the ratings later this week and still beat O'Brien's average.

For the really curious, Leno's last telecast in May, when he ended his first run as "Tonight Show" host, averaged 11.9 million, and his average last season was 5.14 million and a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 category.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Lindsey Vonn with Jay Leno. Credit: Paul Drinkwater / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (21)

With that photo above, you could say that Jay Leno got a "leg up" on the competition.

Leno can kiss my behind ill never tune in to this bore.

Leno is our favorite. We are 100% backing him. Glad to see him back to host the tonight show.

i can't believe people are tuning in to watch leno! he sucks and he's a big cry baby! conan should be on the tonight show, leno already had his run. I MISS YOU CONAN!!

I wonder when he'll retire for real this time. Or will he pull a "Leno" on Jimmy Fallon in the future.

I tuned in because I wanted to see how crappy his desk might look.

Not tuning in tonight, tomorrow or weeks to come.

IMO, leno should have just retire from this boring show and do a car show instead. I like him more as a car guy.

team coco!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't care for Leno, but he won't relinguish the No. 1 spot to Letterman. He's back on top for good.

So glad to have Jay back on tv again!!

This is not news. Of COURSE his first comeback show would have big ratings. Check back in 6 months! THEN report THAT!


Terrible show, terrible host, terrible human being, greedy and not an example....

Team CoCo...!!!

Uh of course he did well his first show back...people wanted to see how bad or if he would talk about any of the Conan stuff ( As well as the fact that people actually like his brand of humor and him as host). Now if he stays on top a couple of weeks from now that's the real test of the show.

I plan on never watching. He just isn't funny to me but if you like him that's good for you. You should all watch what you like and not watch what you don't. It's pretty easy.

By the way didn't the last Tonight show with Conan O'Brien have 7 Million plus viewers?

Team CoCo all the way screw leno

Jay's not too bad ... all this team Coco thing is utter nonsense .. if u dont like Jay's comedy dont watch .. end of day Coco was not the best enough to keep the ratings and thats all there is to it ..

I'm happy to see Leno back...
I was, am, and will be a leno fan.

Simple Fact People.. NBC does not care if you like Leno or miss Conan.. it all comes to Numbers.. All these people(Letterman. Leno, Kimmell and so on } are just rating bringers for the thier respected networks. They could care less about these hosts or if thier funny or mediocre or whtever the public thinks. The networks dont care what we like or not. what they do care is Ratings the more raings the shows get more sponsership they get. Thats how it is

The fact that Conan wasn't able to draw in the demographic group that watches late night shows at 11:35 is lost on his fans. They felt his humor, which admittedly appeals to a younger audience, could translate smoothly to The Tonight Show audience. It didn't. In spite of the monumental mishandling of the entire situation by NBC, Jay is the best choice to head Tonight, and more in line with Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny.

Dumb phony, backstabbing Chin. Conan 4 life!

leg up...ha!

Jay Leno is the most unfunny person I think I have ever seen. Conan got screwed, but money is a nice consolation prize. NBC has lost me, forever!!! I hate Jay Leno and his outdated schtick. He blows hard!!!!


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