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  1. Steve Allen

    The original host of The Tonight Show when it made its NBC debut in 1954, Steve Allen created segments that are still in use today, such as "man on the street" interviews. Also a prolific author and songwriter, the comedian died in 2000 at the age of 78. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Jack Paar

    Mercurial Jack Paar (center) took over the Tonight Show desk when Steve Allen left it in 1957. During Paar's five-year tenure, Tonight took on a more cosmopolitan tone, with international guests like French singer Genevieve (left) and Australian-born actor Errol Flynn (right). Paar died in 2004 at the age of 85. (Yale Joel / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Johnny Carson

    Generally acknowledged as the all-time king of late-night TV, Johnny Carson was a nocturnal habit for America during his 30-year reign as Tonight Show host, 1962-92. Such characters as the sardonic seer Carnac the Magnificent became iconic. Carson died in 2005 at age 79. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tom Snyder

    Arguably the founding father of late-late-night TV due to his stints on NBC’s The Tomorrow Show in the 1970s and 80s and CBS’s The Late Late Show in the 1990s, Snyder had a voluble style; his barking laugh and on-air smoking were parodied by Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live. Snyder died in 2007 at the age of 71. (CBS via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. David Letterman

    Onetime weatherman Letterman became known for his acerbic style when he hosted Late Night with David Letterman on NBC for 11 years. When he did not get Johnny Carson's Tonight Show seat after Carson vacated it in 1992, Letterman bolted to CBS to host Late Show with David Letterman, where his guests have included then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. (Jeffrey R Staab / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Arsenio Hall

    Aimed mainly at a young urban audience, The Arsenio Hall Show ran in late-night syndication from 1989 to 1994. One of the show’s most famous moments came in June 1992, when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton played the saxophone while appearing as a guest. (Ted Thai / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Jay Leno

    When he retired from The Tonight Show in 1992, Johnny Carson was succeeded by stand-up comedian Jay Leno, who had had plenty of practice for the job as a frequent substitute host. Leno ended his Tonight stint in May 2009 to host his own prime-time talk show. But that show failed to attract viewers and was canceled on Jan. 10, 2010, with NBC sending Leno back to Tonight, thus leaving Conan O'Brien the odd man out. (Steve Granitz / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Conan O'Brien

    Formerly a writer on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, O'Brien was little known when Late Night with Conan O'Brien debuted on NBC in September 1993. But O'Brien gradually won over audiences and critics alike, so much so that he was tapped to replace Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show. He took the reins in June 2009, but his tenure was short: NBC decided to return Leno to the Tonight Show, and O'Brien hosted his last show on Jan. 22, 2010. O'Brien later joked that he had always dreamed of hosting The Tonight Show "for seven months." (Dana Edelson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Craig Ferguson

    Glasgow-born comedian Ferguson was best-known for playing the boss on The Drew Carey Show before taking over as host of CBS s The Late Late Show in January 2005. His work earned him an Emmy nomination in 2006. After campaigning on-air for honorary citizenship in every state of America, Ferguson became an American citizen for real in February 2008. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Jimmy Kimmel

    The former co-host of Comedy Central's The Man Show graduated to his own network show, ABC s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, in January 2003. By April 2008, Kimmel (in bed) was marking his 1,000 episode with a comedy special whose guests included fitness guru Richard Simmons. (Mitch Haddad / ABC via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Carson Daly

    The host of Last Call with Carson Daly, which airs in the wee hours of the morning on NBC, was formerly a VJ on MTV's Total Request Live. Shown here welcoming guest Taylor Swift, Daly also emcees NBC's New Year's Eve programming. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Chelsea Handler

    One of the few women to venture into late-night chat, stand-up comedian Handler (right) is the star of Chelsea Lately on the E! entertainment cable channel. Her guests have included pop singer Katy Perry. (Brandon Hickman / E! Entertainment TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Jon Stewart

    He had has a number of film roles and was the star of The Jon Stewart Show on MTV and in syndication in the '90s, as well as hosting the Academy Awards twice. But Stewart is by far best-known for his Emmy-winning "fake news" program on Comedy Central, The Daily Show. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images for Comedy Central) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Stephen Colbert

    Formerly a contributor to The Daily Show, Colbert launched his own spinoff in October 2005. A zany spoof of conservative pundit programming such as The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel, The Colbert Report has won an Emmy and a Peabody Award, among other honors. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Jimmy Fallon

    Once the coanchor of Weekend Update on "Saturday Night Live" alongside Tina Fey, Fallon (right) took over Conan O'Brien's late-night slot on March 2, 2009. His first guests were actor Robert De Niro (left) and pop star Justin Timberlake (center). (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 3/16/2010 6:27:39 PM ET 2010-03-16T22:27:39

Two weeks into non-Jay Leno programming, NBC's audience for the final hour of prime-time TV has increased by 45 percent.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

While NBC doesn't necessarily have any hits in that hour, the instant response by viewers indicates they are more comfortable with the traditional mix of drama, news and reality rather than a late-night show moved into prime time.

The failed experiment of Conan O'Brien taking over the "Tonight" show and Leno moving into prime time ended just before the Olympics. Leno was averaging 5.15 million viewers in his new slot, the Nielsen Co. said. Through two weeks of other programming, the network is averaging 7.44 million at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central. Local affiliates expressed anger that Leno's low ratings hurt their late local news.

NBC moved Leno back to the "Tonight" show. O'Brien quit instead of taking NBC's offer to move his start time back by a half-hour.

NBC's most-watched program of the week, "Law & Order: SVU," was in the 10 p.m. time slot Wednesday and was seen by 8.5 million people. Two lighter shows, "Parenthood" and "The Marriage Ref," had more than six million viewers each. A two-hour "Dateline NBC" Friday had 7.6 million, Nielsen said.

Only the warhorse "Law & Order," with 5.21 million viewers Monday, was in the neighborhood of Leno numbers.

To give some perspective, CBS last week had 17 prime-time programs that were watched by more people than anything on NBC.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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