The way TV viewing has shifted in my lifetime, I’m surprised more broadcast networks aren’t putting their best shows on Sunday nights.
That said, there’s more to the story of NBC announcing five special Sunday night episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this fall.
First, the facts.
Fallon’s Tonight Show will air on Sundays following the local NBC news on Sept. 8, 2019, and also three times in October 2019 (Oct. 6, 20, 27) and once in December (Dec. 1).
The secondary facts.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts of live NFL games consistently rank as the most-watched telecasts in America.
In May, Fallon, The Tonight Show and NBC lost bragging rights to late-night TV ratings and viewing for the first time since 1994-95. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS had outranked NBC and Fallon among total viewers since 2017 (when Trump took office), but only in 2018-19 did Colbert also overtake Fallon within the advertising demographic of adults aged 18-49. For the 2018-19 season, Colbert averaged about 20,000 viewers more in 18-49 than Fallon on any given weeknight (ratings-wise, 0.52 to 0.51). ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, meanwhile, ranked third at 0.38. In total viewers, Colbert averaged 3.82 million nightly, to Fallon’s 2.44 million and Kimmmel’s 2.04 million.
So putting Fallon after Sunday Night Football should goose his ratings, or at least get more eyeballs to give him another chance.
To that end, NBC also announced it’s filming Fallon’s show live for the first full week of the new 2019-2020 season, from Sept. 23-27, 2019.
Still, I’m left with the somewhat striking image in NBC’s promo of Fallon here, lost in the fog, uncomfortable in his clothing and his surroundings. A bit on the nose, don’t you think.