Jimmy Fallon’s first episode on The Tonight Show won the highest TV ratings of late-night, with a 7.1 viewership on the Nielsen scale.
That means about 9 or 10 million people tuned in to watch Fallon take Leno’s desk, Variety reports. The premiere ratings are much higher than Fallon’s Late Night ratings, and more than double Leno’s ratings in his penultimate week on the air, which only reached a 3.5.
But they don’t reach the sky-high ratings of Leno’s last night as host, which reached 9.2, as he said a long goodbye to The Tonight Show after 22 years as host. And they’re exactly the same as Conan O’Brien’s ratings on his first night taking over from Leno in 2009. O’Brien’s ratings sank quickly thereafter, prompting NBC to bring Leno back after seven months and O’Brien to leave the network in anger at his treatment.
Fallon’s first night on The Tonight Show featured guest stars like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Lady Gaga, and a performance by U2. Fallon has also moved the show back to New York for the first time since 1954.