Nielsen: Viewers Welcomed Leno Back to ‘Tonight’

Jay Leno (NBC)

Jay Leno (NBC)

AP Television Writer

NEW YORK — Nielsen says Jay Leno got a warm welcome from viewers with his return on Monday to ‘The Tonight Show.’

Preliminary Nielsen Co. ratings from 56 metered markets across the nation give NBC’s ‘Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ a 5.4 rating and a 14 percent share of the viewing audience. That compares with a 3.4 rating and 8 share for ABC’s ‘Nightline,’ and a 3.0 rating and 8 share for CBS’ ‘Late Show with David Letterman.’

After 17 years, Leno left ‘Tonight’ last May in the hands of new host Conan O’Brien.

O’Brien’s first show ratings last spring were better than Leno’s Monday night return. But O’Brien couldn’t hang onto the viewers, leading to his departure. In the meantime, Leno starred in a weeknight NBC prime-time hour that was canceled for low ratings.

Watch Leno’s monologue from last night:

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