NBC's plan to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon may be drawing viewers to both: From April to June, the two hosts scored their best ratings and total viewers in at least five quarters, while winning their time slots.
In the second quarter of the year, Leno's "Tonight Show" remained the top-rated late night series with a .9 rating in the key 18-49 demo and the most-watched overall with 3.6 million total viewers. ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" was second in the demo with a .7 and third in total viewers with 2.5 million. CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" was third in the ratings with a .6 and second in total viewers with 2.8 million.
Kimmel improved on his slight lead over Letterman among 18-49-year-olds: From April to June, Kimmel had 886,000 adults under 50 compared to Letterman's 777,000. That gave Kimmel a 14 percent advantage over his hero, compared to the 7 percent advantage he had in the first three months of the year.
At 12:35, "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," was first in the key demo with a .6 and tops in total viewers with 1.8 million. ABC's "Nightline" and CBS's "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" both had a .4, and "Nightline" had 1.6 million total viewers to Ferguson's 1.4 million.
Leno and Fallon both had their biggest 18-49 audiences and most total viewers since the first quarter of 2012. Leno averaged 1.08 million adults under 50, while Fallon averaged 701,000. Leno's total viewers were the best since the first quarter of 2012 and Fallon's were his best since the fourth quarter of 2011.
Fallon is replacing Leno as the host of "The Tonight Show" in February.
For the season to date, Leno has averaged a .8 in the key demo, while Letterman and Kimmel both have a .7 rating. Leno averages 3.6 million total viewers, while Letterman has 3 million and Kimmel 2.6 million. (Kimmel's numbers only reflect his performance since moving to 11:35 p.m. in January.)
Season to date, Fallon leads at 12:35 with a .5 rating in the key demo compared to a .4 for both Ferguson and "Nightline." Fallon also leads in total viewers with 1.7 million compared to 1.6 million for "Nightline" and 1.5 million for Ferguson.