Jay Leno's 'Tonight Show' farewell draws biggest audience since 1998
Jimmy Fallon also capitalizes on the Olympics-boosted telecast
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Audiences were eager to say good-bye to Jay Leno on Thursday (February 6) night, as "The Tonight Show" drew its biggest overall audience since 1998.
Boosted by a strong "bonus" night of coverage from the Sochi Winter Olympics, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" drew 14.6 million viewers, the most since May 14, 1998. That was, of course, the night of the series finale of "Seinfeld" and featured Jerry Seinfeld as a guest. That episode drew just under 15 million viewers.
This was, in fact, the fourth largest audience ever for a Jay Leno "Tonight Show," following the 1993 episode following the "Cheers" finale (22.4 million), Leno's 1992 debut (16.1 million) and, again, the post-"Seinfeld" episode.
Among adults 18-49, Leno's send-off drew a 3.8 rating. That's the biggest "Tonight" show audience in the key demo since -- chortle -- Conan O'Brien's last "Tonight Show" in 2010, which did a 4.4 key demo rating. It was the best 18-49 rating for a Thursday "Tonight" since President Obama's first appearance in March of 2009.
Leno's departure also gave a big bump to his successor, as "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" drew 6 million viewers, the biggest for a regularly schedule weekday "Late Night" since 1993 when David Letterman exited.
Check out the gallery below to see the things we pretended we were going to miss about Jay Leno.
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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