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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Feb. 14-17) -- mission accomplished for Fallon's first Tonight


Jimmy Fallon with 1st Tonight Show guest, Will Smith. Photo: Ed Bark

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Although pushed back to an 11 p.m. start by his network’s prime-time Olympics package, Jimmy Fallon’s Monday debut as NBC’s latest Tonight Show host had no trouble outscoring his two principal competitors.

Tonight drew 177,533 D-FW viewers, with more than half of them -- 100,958 -- within the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. Although they both had 10:35 p.m. jump starts, rivals Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman were no match for the new kid.

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! had 49,709 total viewers and 16,284 in the 18-to-49 demographic. CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman drew just 35,507 total viewers, but did better than Kimmel with 22,797 in the 18-to-49 motherlode.

It could have gone even better for Fallon. NBC’s 7 to 10:30 p.m. Olympics coverage averaged 440,281 total viewers, with 172,605 of them in the 18-to-49 range. NBC5’s delayed late night newscast then had respective totals of 284,052 and 133,525. Fallon’s first Tonight had a significant audience fall-off in both measurements, although NBC certainly could have helped him by ending its Winter Games coverage at 10 p.m. on his important opening night. There was ample air in the Peacock’s pre-taped package, so the decision is puzzling.

Fallon not surprisingly fell far short of Jay Leno’s numbers for his final Feb. 6th Tonight Show, which started on time. He drew 397,673 total viewers in D-FW, with 198,659 of them 18-to-49-year-olds.

On Sunday night, NBC’s 6 to 10 p.m. Olympics coverage averaged 433,179 total viewers. From 8 to 9 p.m., AMC’s The Walking Dead ran a close second with 397,673 viewers. But it again bludgeoned the Winter Games in the 18-to-49 measurement, this time winning from 8 to 9 p.m. by a score of 293,103 viewers to the Olympics’ 195,402.

Over on TNT, the high-flying NBA All-Star game (7:56 to 10:23 p.m.) averaged 220,140 total viewers, with 133,525 in the 18-to-49 range.

Saturday’s prime-time prize also went to the Olympics, but with their lowest Nielsen numbers to date. An average of 347,964 viewers hung in there. TNT’s competing All-Star week festivities, ranging from the dunk to the 3-point competitions, pulled in 134,925 viewers to rank second among all programming.

The Olympics also ran first from start to finish on Friday night, averaging 390,572 total viewers. In daytime hours, WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen’s appearance on NBC5’s syndicated Ellen drew 71,013 viewers in the 1 p.m. hour. That put it in a first-place tie with ABC’s competing General Hospital on Hansen’s home station. But Ellen nipped GH for the top spot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Here are the weekday local news derby numbers, with seven days now remaining in the February “sweeps” ratings period.

Friday -- The downsized three-way competitions at 10 p.m. went to Fox4 and WFAA8 in total viewers; WFAA8 narrowly had first place to itself among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 had the most total viewers at 6 a.m. but WFAA8 popped up to claim an uncommon first place finish in the 25-to-54 measurement.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers but WFAA8 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds. The 5 p.m. golds went to NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 trampolined to second place in the latter 5 p.m. measurement despite inheriting a sub-scant 1,219 viewers in the 25-to-54 range from its still ratings-challenged 4 p.m. local newscast.

Monday -- CBS11 took holiday knees all around (for Presidents’ Day), which means that none of its local news numbers count (including what would have been a 6 p. win in total viewers).

Fox4 opted for an “H” at 6 a.m., negating its twin wins at that hour. NBC5 also counted out its 6 a.m. newscast. So you know what? Let’s just call the whole thing off.

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