NBC Demands Loyalty From Jimmy Fallon Guests: No ABC or CBS for You!

tonight show

Jimmy Fallon is still a new face on The Tonight Show, but NBC is clearly feeling good enough about his ratings to issue new rules for guests of the show that could dissuade some of them from appearing. According to TMZ, NBC is requiring that guests who wish to appear on Fallon’s show do not appear on any similar talk shows — late night or early morning — with CBS or ABC. This doesn’t include other NBC shows of course, such as Today Show and Dateline, but TMZ reports that there have already been some issues with guests The Tonight Show was looking to get on the show.

While some might argue that the move was premature, seeing as Fallon’s time on the show has been somewhat short so far, it’s undeniable that his ratings are impressive. According to the Los Angeles Times, The Tonight Show drew 10.4 million viewers in the first week it ran — the largest audience for The Tonight Show since back in May of 1992 when Johnny Carson hosted it. Not too shabby. Of course, the first week is bound to draw in a curious audience — the show’s newness is at least a portion of what people are interested in. Yet the second week proved highly successful as well, according to the Los Angeles Times, with 5.5 million total viewers, still managing to beat Jay Leno’s average of 4 million viewers. That also (easily) beats ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and CBS’s David Letterman, with viewing averages that have been under 3 million a night.

So what’s Fallon’s secret? Could it be that he faced off against Annette Bening in an epic game of flip-cup? The dance duos with both Mrs. Obama and Will Smith certainly can’t have hurt. Unfortunately for Fallon’s replacement over at Late Night with new host Seth Meyers, things aren’t going quite as well.

Deadline reports that Late Night With Seth Meyers received a 2.0/7 metered market result — meaning that his reception has gotten worse since his first appearance on February 24. Still, even Fallon didn’t have the easiest transition to Late Night in his time, with his first appearance on it receiving a 1.6/6 back in 2009, also a major decrease from his first episode.

Fallon’s initial reviews were somewhat mixed, with critics saying he came across as overly polite, too nice, or too thankful. But others praised his unique content, and the number of viral videos his show has created certainly says something for the popularity of what’s being produced comically.

Of course, there’s still ample time for ratings to change, but for now it appears that Fallon has done well despite some naysaying — possibly having something to do with his Lip Sync battle with Paul Rudd? Or maybe it was Brian Williams performing “Rapper’s Delight” in a magical mashup, or his Hashtag conversation with Jonah Hill. Regardless, at the moment NBC may indeed have some leverage for ensuring competitors can’t snatch up its guests — but it may also alienate some big name stars.

Correction: Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show back in 1992, not 1922. Turns out he didn’t discover time travel. That wasn’t him in Looper.

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