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Leno helps Conan ... sort of

September 15, 2009 |  2:39 pm

Jay Leno's big prime time debut last night helped boost his late-night successor's numbers, but probably not in the way Conan O'Brien wanted, according to preliminary Nielsen data.

In terms of audience, "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" jumped 22% to 4.3 million viewers last night, compared to his Monday average this summer of 3.5 million viewers. There were also nice gains in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. All that is good news.

The not-so-good news is that the biggest gain for O'Brien courtesy of Leno was in viewers over the age of 55, which jumped by 51% to 1.8 million viewers last night. Meanwhile, the 18-34 audience, which is O'Brien's core constituency, was off by 5% to 916,000 viewers.

The final numbers for last night's Leno premiere jumped from the preliminary report this morning. Overall, Leno attracted 18.4 million viewers.

-- Joe Flint