Jimmy Fallon Drew the Smallest 'Tonight Show' Audience Ever Last Night

Colbert more than doubled NBC competition’s viewer total

Courtesy of NBC

Monday’s “Tonight Show” averaged the smallest TV audience ever for an original episode of the show, according to early ratings. Jimmy Fallon drew just 947,000 total viewers last night.

Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” on CBS won the evening with 2.03 million viewers, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day fast-national numbers. ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” came in second place among the late-night television programs with 1.67 million total viewers.

Numbers for each of those shows are subject to adjustment when final figures are tallied. Those are expected to be available Wednesday.

While this specific historical Nielsen data only dates back to 1986, it is safe to say that Johnny Carson always attracted more than a million viewers. These are very different eras. (Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1992. Jay Leno took over in ’92.)

The previous low for an original “Tonight Show” episode came on Sept. 25, 2020, when Fallon pulled in 992,000 total viewers following a Stanley Cup Finals game. The start to that episode was a bit delayed due to the live hockey coverage.

Prior to the post-hockey episode, the show’s record low came from Aug. 18, 2020’s episode, when Jimmy drew 1 million total viewers on the nose.

Yeah, it’s been a rough stretch for Fallon — especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fallon used to be the king of late night, but Colbert first passed him in mid-November 2018. The “Colbert Report” alum went on to win that season.

On Monday, Fallon welcomed guests Bill Burr, Rashida Jones and musical guest Old Dominion. Segments included “Life Coach” with Burr and Fallon’s solo gag “Go On, Git.”

Last night, Colbert interviewed Chris Rock and aired a performance by singer Joss Stone. Over on “Kimmel,” the guests were “This Is Us Star” Milo Ventimiglia and CNN’s Jake Tapper, with Queen Naija as musical guest.

Readers can watch Fallon’s Monday monologue below. Up front, Fallon addressed President Trump being permanently banned from Twitter and other social-media platforms.

Find last night’s primetime ratings here. ABC won that day part.

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