Stephen Colbert has been on a hot streak in late night TV rankings in 2017, and The Late Show has been winning solid numbers for CBS. Colbert recently took a trip to Russia to film segments in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and the footage aired nightly from July 17 - July 21. It was an ambitious undertaking, the likes of which few late night TV hosts would be bold enough to try. The numbers are now in to tell us how Russia Week fared on The Late Show. As it turns out, it was a pretty great week for Colbert and The Late Show_. _
The Late Show averaged 2.87 million viewers for Russia Week broadcasts in Live+Same day calculations, which is a boost of 14% from the same week in 2016. Even more importantly, The Late Show won the week in viewers by the largest margin since Stephen Colbert made his CBS hosting debut back in September 2015. It beat NBC's The Tonight Show by 450,000 viewers, which only won 2.42 million viewers on average in the same week. The Late Show ultimately came out on top by an impressive 19%. Congrats to Colbert!
The win for The Late Show is especially notable, given where Stephen Colbert ranked among late night hosts during his first couple of years. Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show was king, while The Late Show was already needing to revamp itself after less than a year with Colbert in the top job. Even Colbert admits that the show really didn't work with him at the beginning as he made the transition from playing a character on The Colbert Report to hosting a major network late night program.
Everything changed around the time of the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump's win motivated Stephen Colbert to take a political slant that he avoided earlier in his tenure as Late Show host, and viewers responded. He began to really pick up steam starting in the week of Trump's inauguration, and he kept rising until he was finally beating Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show on a regular basis. Colbert was probably helped by the fact that some viewers were alienated by how Fallon handled his interview with Donald Trump, but the reality was that Colbert finally seemed in his element as host.
That said, Stephen Colbert hasn't remaining firmly on top of the late night game ever since the inauguration. Not too long ago, Colbert's Late Show fell behind both Fallon's Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel's Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. Of course, the drop occurred on a week of Late Show repeats, and the numbers for Russia Week prove that it was more of a fluke than the beginning of a trend.
Russia Week is over, but you can catch new episodes of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.