An average of 11.3 million total viewers tuned in to the premiere of
The numbers don't quite match the 14.6 million who turned up to see Leno's last episode of "Tonight" this month. But in an encouraging sign for NBC, Fallon's audience was significantly larger than the ill-fated 2009 premiere for
Realizing the high stakes, Fallon and his producers stacked the first show with high-profile talent, including
But of course, one night doesn't mean much in the world of late-night talk, where rival hosts such as
"The ratings next May and November will be far more important than the first week or two and [will be] indicative of how Fallon stacks up versus Letterman, Kimmel, Conan and Colbert," said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media in New York.
However, there is one area that already might be of concern to NBC executives. Fallon's opening rating in the adults aged 18 to 49 category -- the key demographic for late-night entertainment -- was a 3.8. As it happens, that is exactly the same rating that O'Brien got for his opening night, and the network and its affiliates were hardly thrilled with O'Brien's numbers over the long haul. Yes, it's still early, but it must be disappointing to station managers that on his first night (and with huge Olympics promotion), Fallon did no better than O'Brien among the young adults they are most eager to reach.
What do you think? Can Jimmy Fallon go the distance?