This second finale pulled in 15 million viewers, the best numbers since 1998, where “Tonight” had a special commemorating the finale of NBC’s “Seinfeld” episode.
This “last” finale show on Thursday night garnered 3 million more viewers than the 12 million viewers of Leno’s first finale, in May 2009. Several months later Conan O’Brien took over -- for a short period anyway.
Late-night broadcast TV programming regularly pulls in around $500 million to $700 million a year in advertising revenue. But when looking at all of late night TV -- Monday to Friday, 11:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. -- that number comes to $5.9 billion, according to Kantar Media.
Late night is no longer a young-skewing daypart for broadcasters. For example, when Leno started with “The Tonight Show” in 1992, the show’s viewer median age was 44.9. This year it’s 57.8.
Still, TV advertisers are still in search of mass quantities of viewers wherever they can get them -- and broadcast can still deliver. Leno averaged 6.4 million viewers from January 1992 to January 1993. More recently, it has been 3.5 million viewers from January 2013 to January 2014 -- with Leno still ahead: “Late Show with David Letterman” is at 2.9 million; ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” 2.4 million.
Traditional late-night TV marketers have includes movie companies, video game brands, technology, beer marketers, mobile phone service, and other younger-skewing companies.
Even with fresh talent/programming in different spots like Fallon, Kimmel, and other late night programming arriving -- the advertising composition may change.
Top-end late-night broadcast 30-second commercial inventory still has been going for $20,000 to $40,000. Even with all the time-shifting, and content appearing in digital arenas, late-night programming on TV is not quite in the dark.