Fans came out for the return of Arsenio Hall on Monday, lifting the first night of his new syndicated show to the top of the late-night ratings in the biggest 25 cities.
These early ratings are limited in reach, and don’t include total viewer totals, but they show that Mr. Hall clearly made a dent on Monday. In the 25 cities, “The Arsenio Hall Show” averaged a 1.0 rating in the important category of viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.
That rating was bigger in those cities than Jimmy Kimmel on ABC (0.8); Jay Leno on NBC (0.6); or David Letterman on CBS (0.5).
In addition, Mr. Hall’s overall rating of a 1.9 almost doubled what the stations in his lineup had averaged a year ago: a 1.0.
The numbers are evidence that Mr. Hall, 57 and nearly two decades away from late-night TV, can still pull in some viewers.
Obviously they pale in comparison to first-night numbers for other late-night rivals, who have scored several times as high in the ratings for their premiere shows. For example, when Conan O’Brien took over the “Tonight” show in 2009 he attracted over nine million viewers and scored a 3.8 rating that 18-49 group.
Mr. Hall’s performance was impressive on another level, however: it came against the powerhouse competition of “Monday Night Football” on ESPN. The first game of the doubleheader scored the best rating — 11.6 — for an opening game since they moved to cable in 2006.
Mr. Hall mainly faced the second game, whose numbers were a bit less formidable but still potent: a 7.7 rating.
Football demonstrated its overall power all weekend as the “Sunday Night Football” opener on NBC pulled in more than 25 million viewers. That was good for ninth place for Sunday night games from all time.
NBC got a more mixed result Monday night for the premiere of its much-publicized new game show, “Million Second Quiz.” “Quiz” managed to win its hour and finished second over all among broadcast shows on the night. But it averaged only 6.5 million viewers, and lost about a half a million of them in its second half-hour.
If NBC is hoping to relive the phenomenon of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” it has some distance to go.