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‘Tonight Show’ Debut With Fallon Draws 11.3 Million Viewers

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon hosts The Tonight Show on February 17, 2014. Photographer: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” attracted 11.3 million viewers in its debut on the NBC network last night, drawing about five times the audience of the new host’s competitors with the Olympics as a lead-in.

That marked the second-biggest audience for “The Tonight Show” since May 29, 2009, the date that Jay Leno stepped down as host of the program for the first time, according to NBC, which is owned by Comcast Corp. Leno’s last night as host earlier this month drew 14.6 million.

NBC scheduled the transition to benefit from the large audience attracted to the games. Fallon, 39, who made his debut a half-hour later than normal last night because of NBC’s Olympics coverage, inherits the most-watched late-night talk show, ahead of both David Letterman on CBS and Jimmy Kimmel on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.

The “Late Show with David Letterman” attracted 2.41 million viewers last night, while “Jimmy Kimmel Live” drew 2.11 million, according to NBC.

Comcast fell 0.3 percent to $53.53 at the close in New York. Shares of the Philadelphia-based company gained 30 percent in the past year.

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