Colbert Tops Fallon in Late Night Quarter One Ratings

Since early January, The Late Show with has been consistently beating out The Tonight Show starring  in total viewers on a week-to-week basis. There were some who thought that it was artificial, just a temporary boost for a political late night show host that correlated with the inauguration of a highly-controversial president. The trend towards Colbert has kept up, however, and now the verdict is in: For now, at least, Stephen Colbert is the new King of Late Night TV.

Let’s be clear: Colbert is by no means dominating Fallon. According to a report from Deadline, Colbert finished out quarter one of 2017 with 3.29 million average viewers, edging out Fallon by 260,000 viewers. At the same time last year, Fallon had the lead over Colbert by 840,000 viewers. While the two aren’t too far off from each other’s numbers, the figures do represent a huge swing in viewership for both shows. Around this time last year, Colbert was only averaging 2.5 million viewers to Fallon’s 3.5 million. That’s a decent knock against Fallon, and an even bigger indication that Colbert has found a winning formula.

This information, combined with the numbers we’ve seen for other shows like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Real Time with Bill Maher, shows that we can definitively say, in the case of late night TV, that viewers today seem to want at least some politics in their entertainment. Whether that’s a trend that will keep up or fade away long-term remains to be seen.

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Bill Tressler

Bill is a writer and comedy enthusiast from New York. An avid gamer and podcast fan, he strives to always toe the line between charming irreverence and grating honesty.