“The Tonight Show” on NBC posted its highest overnight rating in four years with Jay Leno hosting President Barack Obama – the first visit ever by a sitting president to a late night TV talk show. The telecast Thursday night beat the season average 3.9 household rating by 187%.
Based on overnight Nielsen numbers, NBC reported that the show featuring the guest appearance by President Obama, followed by Country crooner Garth Brooks, scored an 11.2 household rating and 26 share. That was the highest “Tonight” rating in metered-market households since Monday, January 24, 2005 (11.2/26), the night of a special tribute to Johnny Carson. The last time Jay Leno scored a higher metered-market rating than Thursday night was Thursday, May 14, 1998 (12.4), the night of the “Seinfeld” finale.
Thursday’s show matched the fourth highest metered-market household rating in the more than 16 years Jay Leno has been hosting “Tonight.” The other higher rated nights in the metered markets for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” are May 20, 1993, the night of the “Cheers” finale; May 25, 1992, the debut of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”; and May 14, 1998, the night of the “Seinfeld” finale.