It was Jay Leno's big return to late night TV and he clobbered rival David Letterman with almost double the number of viewers.
"Out of the gate Jay's the winner; there's a lot of curiosity about his comeback, but we're really not going to know who the king of late night is for some months," says J. Max Robins of the Paley Center for Media.
Letterman found the funny side of the late night war: "Tonight is a rough night for my mom, she doesn't know who to watch, Jimmy Kimmel or Jay!" he told his audience.
Leno seemed pleased with his performance leaving the studio in one of his funky retro cars, but his reviews have been mixed.
USA Today blasted Leno's first show back as "tired, lame and unfunny." Time magazine on-line said Leno was "comfortable, familiar and pretty much unchanged."
Some bloggers are saying Leno "dissed" former Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien while hyping his interview with Sarah Palin.
"Sarah Palin will be here, she's never been on a late night show before, [it] should be fun," Leno said. But Palin actually has appeared on a late night show before – she was a surprise guest on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien in December 2009. Now Leno is coming under fire for "erasing all trace of Conan." [Source: Nikki Fink, deadline.com]
"Everybody who's still at NBC wants to put Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show behind them, they want to think it was just a bad dream, something that never happened," Robins tells INSIDE EDITION.
Letterman certainly doesn't have to worry about losing shock jock Howard Stern as a viewer. "Just the mere mention of Jay Leno's name makes me want to vomit," he said. The radio host openly hates Leno, and weighed in on the late night battle during a rare TV interview with The Early Show.