xml:space="preserve">

After two stormy weeks of non-stop headlines, Conan O'Brien left the NBC airwaves Friday with big ratings.

O'Brien's last night as host of "The Tonight Show" drew a preliminary rating of 7.0, which translates to about 8 million households. But more impressive, he scored a 4.8 rating in the key demographic of viewers 18 to 49, one of the highest scores for any show at any time of night on network TV this year.

Advertisement

By comparison, what at the time was thought to be Jay Leno's finale as host of the "The Tonight Show" earned a final household rating of 8.8, topping O'Brien by about 2 million households. But O'Brien did better with young viewers, as Leno's "finale" scored only a 3.4 rating in that group.

Part of the controversy driving the big final numbers for O'Brien, of course, involves Leno returning on March 1 to reclaim "The Tonight Show" and his old time period, while O'Brien leaves NBC with a $33 million severance package after only seven months in Johnny Carson's old chair.

For further comparison, O'Brien's 4.8 ratings with viewers 18-to-49 was on a par with the 4.8 scored last week by the finale of MTV's "Jersey Shore" with viewers 12-to-34, an even harder to reach youth demographic for television.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement