TV Ratings: Jay Leno's Final 'Tonight Show' Nears 5-Year High

The NBC show pulls its biggest overnights since President Obama became the first sitting president to appear on late night and outdoes Leno's 2009 farewell.
Austin Hargrave

Jay Leno went out on a high note -- but how high was it?

Overnights for the host's final night with The Tonight Show give the episode a 9.2 rating among households and a 22 share. Easily besting any performance since his 2010 return to the show, Leno's finale comes after four consecutive broadcasts of new highs.

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The last time Tonight brought such an audience was March 19, 2009, when President Obama joined the show for the first time. That marked the first time a sitting U.S. president appeared on a late-night talker, something Obama has since become known for doing.

This also outperforms Leno's last exit. His previous goodbye to Tonight, in 2009, averaged a 8.8 households rating. (Conan O'Brien's Tonight ender in 2010 fetched a 7.0 rating.)

Final ratings for Leno's penultimate week with Tonight -- that's Jan. 27-31 -- give him an average a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. He outperformed both David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel by almost 60 percent. Among total viewers, last week's Tonight Show averaged 5 million viewers. Tonight was at season bests by both measures, though this week's performance will see those numbers eclipsed.

The lead-in brought Fallon his best showing ever in Late Night's hour. Overnights for the 12:35 a.m. show brought a 4.6 rating and 15 share -- that beats even Fallon's 2012 Super Bowl Sunday episode (4.2 rating) for his highest overnight rating to date.