Viewers certainly tuned in to watch Jay Leno‘s return to late night on Monday, but will it last? The Tonight Show with Jay Leno swamped longtime rival David Letterman in the ratings on Monday, pulling in nearly twice as many viewers as The Late Show.

Jay Leno (Photo: NBC)

Jay Leno (Photo: NBC)

Almost 6 million people watched Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show on Monday for the first time since last May. The question remains, however, whether Jay Leno can continue to pull high enough ratings to justify the late night NBC shake-up that resulted in Conan O’Brien ditching The Tonight Show and leaving the network.

Conan O’Brien failed to bring in enough viewers to be consistently competitive against The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS after he took the reins of The Tonight Show. Meanwhile, Jay Leno floundered in his new 10:00 PM slot badly, pulling in disappointing ratings and making NBC sponsors quite unhappy. NBC decided to push Conan O’Brien to a later time and put Jay Leno back in late night, but O’Brien decided he’d rather leave than get the short end of that deal.

NBC has risked a lot on Jay Leno being able to reclaim his late night glory on The Tonight Show. Right now fans are tuning in for the curiosity factor, but if Leno can’t keep them interested, the whole shake-up could backfire on NBC big time.

Personally, we thought Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show was rather yawn-worthy. It’s really like he never even left and that’s a bad thing. Leno needs to change things up and take some real chances. The same old, same old isn’t going to give him the ratings he needs to prove he deserved to win the Leno – O’Brien late night war.

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