Paul Rudd, left, joined Jimmy Fallon this week on NBC's "Tonight Show."

Paul Rudd, left, joined Jimmy Fallon this week on NBC's "Tonight Show." (Lloyd Bishop/NBC / February 25, 2014)

Thank you,  Jimmy Fallon, for giving the late-night ratings race the kick in the pants it needed.

Not even two weeks into his new "Tonight Show" gig, Fallon has dominated viewing in a way that few expected.

On Thursday, NBC released Nielsen data that showed Fallon's "Tonight" on NBC gathered 10.4 million total viewers during its first week, including people who watched on their DVRs up to three days after the original broadcast. That makes it the biggest overall audience for the program since the last week that Johnny Carson hosted, in May 1992.

That's right -- Fallon's mark just eclipsed the entire Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien era in one fell swoop.

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Now, you could say that's all due to first-week novelty. But this is Fallon's second week, and on Wednesday night "Tonight" still delivered 5.5 million total viewers -- far ahead of the 4 million that Jay Leno was averaging earlier this season.

That's potentially a big problem for CBS and ABC, as David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel each average well under 3 million total viewers per night.

It is still way too early to declare any victors here, but Fallon is off to a blazing start.

What do you think of his new "Tonight Show"?

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