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March 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Jay Leno’s jabs at NBC for its dismal showing on the Nielsen ratings chart has actually been good for some ratings — his own. Figures for the week of March 18-22 indicate that the Tonight show drew its biggest total audience in seven weeks — 3.52 million — and its biggest audience among the key 18-49 age group in four weeks — 982,000. Those numbers once again beat those of his late-night broadcast competitors, Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. Meanwhile, the nation’s TV critics are weighing in on the Tonight show succession controversy. J.K. Trotter, a columnist for The Atlantic magazine’s, warned Leno that his barbs at NBC could backfire. “It’s unclear what Leno is hoping to accomplish here,” he wrote, “TV ratings are largely insider fare — those jokes can only be told so many times, and they get less and less funny — and Leno needs all the support he can get from NBC’s corporate leadership right now if wants to protect his show from Fallon.” And Robert Bianco in USA Today wonders whether Fallon would really become a bigger draw at 11:30 p.m. than Leno. Why, he asks, “would NBC think [Fallon would] do better in that slot than [Conan] O’Brien when his ratings are lower, his act is similarly pitched toward the later slot’s smaller crowd and lower expectations, and his experience and abilities are less?”