A huge tax break helped bring The Tonight Show to New York City

The long-running talk show's move from Burbank to NYC was helped by a 30 percent tax credit (but hey, it created jobs, maybe?)

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Jimmy Fallon takes over The Tonight Show hosting duties on February 17

Jimmy Fallon takes over The Tonight Show hosting duties on February 17 Photograph: James White/NBC


The Tonight Show returned to NBC last week with a bang: The program had its most-watched week in 20 years, according to The Wrap, with an average of 8.5 million people tuning in throughout the week. (Friday's show, with guest Justin Timberlake, had the highest audience—8.8 million people watched the singer and new host Jimmy Fallon add another entry to their "History of Rap" series. You can check out a video of that below.)

But the long-running program may have never moved to New York at all if it weren't for a big tax break, added to the state budget last year, that may save NBC as much as $22 million. According to the Associated Press, the 30 percent tax credit was created specifically for The Tonight Show, in the hopes of luring the program back to its original home. The AP explains:

"The language of the 30 percent annual tax credit was remarkably specific: It would only benefit a show that had filmed at least five years in another state before moving to New York (check), spends at least $30 million in production costs (check) and films in front of a studio audience of at least 200 people (check). In other words: The Tonight Show."

The talk show isn't the only series to benefit from tax breaks: The Bloomberg administration created a tax-incentive program that has brought record numbers of TV and film productions to New York State, and the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting estimates that those productions bring approximately $7 billion annually to NYC. (Other late-night shows that film here, such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, presumably won't receive the same break as The Tonight Show.)

For its part, NBC says that the move was made for creative reasons but admits that the savings basically made it possible. The network also estimates that the show's return will create around 250 jobs in the city. The program is still in its NYC infancy, so here's hoping it ends up being a win all around.

(h/t Capital New York)


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