The Washington Post

‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ hosts President Obama, clocks best ratings in two years

President Barack Obama, Jimmy Fallon. (NBC/LLOYD BISHOP)

It was Obama’s first ever appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which traveled to UNC-Chapel Hill for the broadcast Tuesday night — well, technically, Wednesday morning, since the show airs after midnight.

The episode clocked the show’s best numbers in two years, in household ratings in the country’s so-called “metered markets, of which Washington is one, NBC boasted later Wednesday morning.

It bested the show’s Tuesday season average, by about 30 percent, and did even better than that among the 18-49 year old viewers who are the currency of broadcast TV, though they’re only a slice of the 18-whatever audience — the currency of Obama’s re-election bid.

If these local-market averages translate nationally the way “Late Night” does typically, Obama’s visit would wind up with roughly 2 million viewers.

This number is not as reliable as you’re used to getting in the TV Column; that’s because a first ever appearance on the show by POTUS could skew towards those major markets that are “metered,” or toward older viewers (who tend to be more interested in political programming), or in other ways that are hard to anticipate. But, Nielsen won’t actually put out final numbers on Obama’s slow jam of the news until a week from Thursday, by which time we will have all moved on to another big TV story.


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