Leno starts out big


Day one of the “Jay Leno Show” drew a big audience for NBC, with 17.7 million viewers and an 18-49 rating of 5.1. Now we wait to see how the Monday-Friday stripped experiment with a talk show works over the long-haul.

NBC proudly rolled out the results from the Nielsen Overnights:

From 10-11 p.m. ET, “The Jay Leno Show” averaged a 5.1 rating, 13 share in adults 18-49; a 6.2/15 in adults 25-54 and 17.7 million viewers overall.

“The Jay Leno Show” ranked #1 among the major networks in the time period in adults 18-49, #1 in adults 25-54 (the key demographic for late local news) and #1 in total viewers and all other key ratings categories. “The Jay Leno Show” was the #1 telecast of the night on the major networks in adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Versus its lead-in from the 9-10 pm ET hour of “America’s Got Talent,” “The Jay Leno Show” was up 42% in adults 18-49 (5.1 vs. 3.6), 32% in adults 25-54 (6.2 vs. 4.7) and 18 percent in total viewers (17.7 million vs. 14.9 million).

“The Jay Leno Show” delivered NBC’s highest 18-49 rating in the time period since November 3, 2008 (“Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash”), and biggest overall audience in the time slot since the August 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

From its first half-hour to its second, “The Jay Leno Show increased its 18-49 rating by 4% (to a 5.2 from a 5.0).

It’s only one night – the first night – but the Peacock was crowing loudly.

“It’s great to launch this innovative new show with such strong initial sampling, but we realize this is just one night and that we’re going to build our business in this time period with ratings that will level out over time. Our focus is on delivering a great show and developing a consistent comedy viewing habit at 10 pm over the long haul,” said Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment.

With the Leno premiere batting clean-up, it was a strong night for NBC. From 8-10 pm ET, a special Monday telecast of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” averaged a 3.3/9 in adults 18-49 and 13.8 million viewers overall. In the time period, “Talent” is #1 among the major networks in adults 18-49, total viewers and numerous other key ratings categories.

The 3.3 rating for “Talent” is NBC’s best in the Monday 8-10 pm ET slot since February 9, 2009, and the 13.8 million is NBC’s biggest overall audience in the time period, excluding Olympics, since March 19, 2007.

NBC was #1 among the major networks for the night in 18-49, adults 25-54, total viewers and all other key ratings categories.

RBR/TVBR observation: No, we’re not surprised. It’s exactly what we predicted. But a new show is only new once. There will certainly be major erosion going forward. The question to be answered is where the show will establish an audience baseline.