Opinion: Not as good as ‘Seinfeld’ finale, but Obama boosts Leno’s ratings


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Well, now millions more Americans will think Kevin Eubanks wears a suit every night on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.’

In honor of Barack Obama becoming only the second sitting president to go on late-night TV on Thursday night, the jazz musician got all dressed up, which the Great Change noted. So did millions of Americans.

‘The Tonight Show’ delivered its best metered market ratings in four years, since the Johnny Carson tribute in January 2005, and the fourth-best night in Jay Leno’s 16 years as the jut-jawed host. Forget for a minute the Obama Special Olympics gaffe.


The president proved to be the best lead-in ever for ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,’ which probably wasn’t Obama’s goal, but it’s been a short ‘ever’ in that show’s history anyway. David Letterman wasn’t shooting last night, but basketball is usually a tough competitor at this time of year.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the Leno-Obama summit drew an 11.2 rating in the 56 largest markets. Leno, who will give up the job later this spring, has been averaging about 3.9 a night.

What this all means is that of the U.S. TVs still on at that hour, about one in four were tuned to NBC. Anything to hold down those ratings for ‘Walker, Texas Ranger.’

-- Andrew Malcolm

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