The last time Arsenio Hall stepped onstage as host of a late-night talk show, Bill Clinton was in the White House and Miley Cyrus was in diapers. And the three “surprise guests” who turned up on last night’s premiere of The Arsenio Hall Show already were big stars. The syndicated show featured a couple of songs by Snoop Dogg (not Snoop Lion), some squirm-inducing scripted banter with Paula Abdul (oh, she loves Arsenio so) and a funny open, featuring Hall’s 25-minute-a-night current rival Jay Leno (watch that bit below). As for ratings: The Arsenio Hall Show bowed as the top-rated late-night broadcast program among the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, according to early stats. Arsenio scored a 1.0/4 in adults 18-49 and a 1.2/5 in adults 25-54 in Nielsen’s Local People Meter markets, beating his late-night broadcast competitors in those markets. In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, NBC’s Tonight clocked 0.6/3 in 18-49; CBS’ Late Show logged 0.5/3, though it was delayed by a primetime overrun; and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live posted a 0.8/4.

In households, Arsenio finished well behind several of the broadcast late-night shows, though his household 1.9/4 is up 90% from year-ago time-period averages (1.0/2 in September 2012). In Nielsen’s 56 metered markets, Tonight scored a 2.3/6, CBS’ Letterman a 1.8/5 (delayed by primetime overrun), and Kimmel a 1.9/5. While late-night shows tend to decline from their lead-ins — the competition at that hour including not only the Lenos and Lettermans but also “bed” — Arsenio jumped 19% over his lead-ins, going from a 1.6/3 to a 1.9/4. n New York, Arsenio jumped 60% over its lead-in, and in LA it surged 88% and was the #1 show in its time period with a household 3.2/9.

Watch Leno on Arsenio here: