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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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Bruce February 10 2014 at 1:41 PM

tonight show was my LAST reason for watching anything on NBC...with Jay Gone the network and all it's stations might as well close cause i will not be watching, along with i'd dare say 100's of thousands more.

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Pearl February 10 2014 at 11:22 AM

SO SORRY TO SEE YOU GO LENO, NO MORE TONIGHT SHOW FOR ME.

I, HAD LOVED YOUR TALKS WITH THE MAN AND WOMEN ON THE STREET THE VERY BEST OF LIFE'S EXAMPLES

WE COULD LAUGH AT OURSELVES, EXAMPLE, WHERE IS NEW MEXICO?
ANS. somewhere in MEXICO? LOL STILL

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Hi Cathy February 10 2014 at 9:43 AM

I miss him already. Jay is the best

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pizzaman February 10 2014 at 9:18 AM

Fallon will be number one. Kimmel will be number two. Letterman will always be number three.Fallon has much better skits than the other two combined.

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hawkmaneagleman February 10 2014 at 9:15 AM

Seth Mcfarlane should have replaced Jay.If NBC wants ratings, hes the guy. Hawk

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Randy February 10 2014 at 9:08 AM

Hope NBC/Comcast suits remember the number "14,600,000" for a very long time - because it will be the last time the Tonight Show has anywhere near those numbers with the juvenile Fallon as the host. If he even surpasses the pathetic ratings of the far left letterman it will be a surprise.

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bclgme February 10 2014 at 9:07 AM

Good riddance. Karma got ya!!! How dare he hold the network hostage a few years ago because he wanted the 10 pm slot. NBC wrecked their entire line up to bow down to Leno. Thank gosh he is gone. He was boring, irrelevant and basically rude. Fallon will be a breath of fresh air!!!!

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4 replies to bclgme's comment
greenlite5099 February 10 2014 at 8:55 AM

Jay was Great, will miss him

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sky7728 February 10 2014 at 8:48 AM

Best decision ever! Go out on top. Screw NBC. Best wishes for a class act. The flap involving Conan was NBC managements fault NOT Leno's. Jay got thrown under the bus on that one. Now Jay gets to spend time with his first love CARS!

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J O S E February 10 2014 at 8:46 AM

Fallon won't lat 3 years..

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