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Jay Leno's last 'Tonight' drew 14.6 million viewers



By LYNN ELBER

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jay Leno's farewell "Tonight Show" drew the late-night show's biggest audience in more than 15 years, NBC said Friday.

A total of 14.6 million viewers tuned in Thursday to see Leno wrap up his 22 years as host of "Tonight," according to Nielsen company ratings released by NBC.

The audience was the biggest since May 14, 1998, when Jerry Seinfeld appeared on "Tonight" to mark the end of his sitcom and nearly 15 million viewers tuned in.

Leno's goodbye to "Tonight" was watched by 2.7 million more viewers than when Leno left in May 2009 to make way for Conan O'Brien's short-lived stint as host. That telecast had 11.9 million viewers.

Billy Crystal, Leno's first guest when he took "Tonight" over from Johnny Carson in 1992, was the final guest on Thursday. Garth Brooks was the show's last performer.

Jimmy Fallon, Leno's successor at "Tonight," also had a good Thursday. "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" was watched by 6 million viewers, the show's biggest audience since a 2012 Super Bowl special telecast drew nearly 6.1 million.

For a regular weeknight show, the post-Leno finale represents the biggest "Late Night" audience since David Letterman's final appearance as its host in June 1993 was watched by 7.5 million viewers.

"The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon," which is relocating from Burbank to New York, begins airing Feb. 17.

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blubird623 February 09 2014 at 10:10 PM

jAY WAS THE BEST I WILL MISS HIM SO MUCH GOOD LUCK IN YOUR LIFE JAY.....COME BACK SOME DAY MILLIE

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1 reply
blubird623 blubird623 February 09 2014 at 10:14 PM

jAY WAS THE BEST NO REPLACEMENT WILL EVER BE THE SAME LOVE YOU JAY GOOD LUCK...CAN YOU GO TO ANOTHER STATION?

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edvige45 February 09 2014 at 8:07 PM

Jay Leno, you will be greatly missed.

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Willow Moon February 09 2014 at 8:01 PM

NBC, Oh NBC, Hey You, NBC Executives, are you listening to us? The Tonight Show has lost a viewer. This info might not mean much to you, but it means a lot to me. David Letterman and Craig Ferguson will now be my late nigh/wind down viewing. Before you canned Jay for the second time it was Jay and then Craig. I am going to miss Jay Leno. Thank God you don't have any say over CBS' Craig Ferguson. Perhaps you need to change the people that determine your demographics and listen to the viewers. BOO HISS NBC

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1 reply
armandsmith Willow Moon February 09 2014 at 8:26 PM

Only thing we watched on NBC was Leno. So no more NBC. The morning show they have Today.. can do without that as well.

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jiffyjet2 February 09 2014 at 7:54 PM

I don't really care for Fallon. Too much Saturday night live influence. Most of his guests are from SNL, which I quit watching years ago. To childish and teen oriented humor. Not for me.

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1 reply
rmitai jiffyjet2 February 09 2014 at 7:56 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth. Totally agree with you!

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john February 09 2014 at 7:52 PM

You'll Be Missed Jay. Try to hook up with Fox.

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1 reply
English john February 09 2014 at 8:02 PM

Jay Leno; you lay egg in Fox House, soon cooked goosie; ah so, Sarah Palin.

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Rita Hayward February 09 2014 at 7:51 PM

Fallon is a 40 year old man that tries too hard to be COOL!! He is not funny, nor is he cool. I tried watching him a few times and he filled the shows with silly games that would be entertaining for 10 year olds. And, his looks to me are just plain weird.

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2 replies
Susan Rita Hayward February 09 2014 at 7:53 PM

I will give him a year .

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ajpoolio1 Rita Hayward February 09 2014 at 7:58 PM

Ya get back to your reality shows.

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ajpoolio1 February 09 2014 at 7:51 PM

I want him back, and he's not even gone yet.

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shipdog7 February 09 2014 at 7:41 PM

Jay isn't going anywhere. As he stated he is done with late night and ratings wars. Time for the youngsters to take over. He will be appearing around the country doing stand-up routines two thirds of the year. I think he will be a much happier "retiree" in his new ventures. I noticed there are a lot more David Letterman promos now. He finally makes it to the top of the ratings wars. Life is good. Should mean a bigger contract for Dave.

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Tom February 09 2014 at 7:40 PM

Jay was great, good hearted and gentle. Letterman has a mean streak and everyonce and a while it shows.

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1 reply
cev07 Tom February 09 2014 at 7:45 PM

i agree, don't watch David Letterman due to his insulting ways, he is'nt a bit funny to me!

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ritajohnson777 February 09 2014 at 7:39 PM

It is so sad and depressing to see NBC let Jay Leno who was the best Comedian in the Business go. That was the worse move NBC has made and the percentage of people who will watch The Tonight Show will go down drastically because nobody will be Jay leno.

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1 reply
Ang ritajohnson777 February 09 2014 at 7:42 PM

I totally agree! I already miss staying up to watch Jay's monolog! He is a cool, genuine person and he will be missed! Sorry to say, Jimmy Fallon does nothing for me. Oh well, now I will get more sleep, as I only stayed up to watch Jay! Late night won't be the same without you Jay! Best of luck in your future endeavors!

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