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Late night television has some great talk show options for fans wanting to cap off an evening. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has been consistently crushing the competition over at NBC. Fallon faces Jimmy Kimmel with Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC and Stephen Colbert with The Late Show on CBS, and the differences in the ratings for all three shows are staggering. Now, The Tonight Show scored such high numbers that the ratings for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show combined were no match.
Last night's episode of The Tonight Show scored an impressive 0.9 in the valuable 18 - 49 demographic, which was its highest since way back in December 2015. To compare, Jimmy Kimmel Live! only scored a 0.4 in the 18 - 49 demographic, and The Late Show only managed a 0.3. Even with the ratings for both shows combined, the 0.7 rating still falls well short of The Tonight Show's 0.9 in the demo and 3.0 rating in total viewers.
It's really not particularly surprising that The Tonight Show drew higher numbers than its competition in the 11:35 p.m. time slot. A report from NBC indicated that The Tonight Show was beating Live! by 73% and The Late Show by 87% in the first week of July. Things can change quickly on the small screen, but it looks like The Tonight Show may be on top for the long run. Jimmy Fallon has signed on to stick around NBC through 2021, so the network is clearly counting on him to keep up the good work on attracting viewers.
There are a number of factors that could be contributing to Jimmy Fallon's late night dominance over the other hosts. For one thing, Fallon is pretty universally regarded as a nice guy. For another, some of his games and segments have become such viral hits that The Tonight Show has major appeal beyond just his interviews and monologues. Personally, I love watching him crack up as much nowadays as he did back during his time on Saturday Night Live.
In contrast, some of Jimmy Kimmel's segments on Live! aren't quite as fun or light-hearted. Former late night host Jay Leno has even opined that Kimmel's "mean streak" has driven folks away. Kimmel is pretty much the opposite of Jimmy Fallon, so it would make sense if any late night fans driven away from Kimmel may flock to Fallon. As for Stephen Colbert, his lower numbers may have more to do with politics than his comedy. A 2015 poll indicated that only 17% of Colbert's viewers identified as Republican, with 47% identifying as Democrats and the rest as Independents. Jimmy Fallon's percentages were more balanced, with 36% Democrat and 31% Republican. Jimmy Kimmel found a balance as well with 34% Democrat and 33% Republican. Colbert had an existing fanbase prior to The Late Show thanks to the success of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, but he'll need viewers on both sides of the aisle if he wants to keep up with any of the competition.
Only time will tell if The Tonight Show remains on top of network late night programming. Tune in to catch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC, and check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else you'll be able to watch in the near future.