Stephen Colbert's success in late night has been well-documented over the past couple of years, and recently The Late Show hit a milestone that it had yet to achieve. The program beat The Tonight Show where it matters, as CBS is noting The Late Show With Stephen Colbert defeated Jimmy Fallon's late-night program for the first time in a the key 18-49 demographic.
Last week, The Late Show overtook The Tonight Show in an average of the adults 18-49 demo by a tenth of a point, with Stephen Colbert pulling in a 0.5 rating to Jimmy Fallon's 0.4. Regardless of whether it was a large or small jump, it was still a historic moment for the CBS program as it overtook season-to-date viewers in the key advertising demo. When that demo is represented via a rolling Live+ 3 day and 7-day season average, Colbert pulled 703,000 viewers to Fallon's 678,000.
In total, Nielsen Live+ 3 day ratings reported The Late Show With Stephen Colbert pulled in 3.74 million viewers and 0.6 in the 18-49 demo for the week ending on Friday, November 9. The show gained 620,000 viewers in the several day gap after the initial airing. This season, Live+3 numbers have lifted the late night show greatly, and the show has consistently been delivering more than 3.5 million viewers each episode given the additional time to shine.
The recent demographic victory marks the first time that's happened since Stephen Colbert has taken control of The Late Show, and should be the icing on the cake to the host's total viewership superiority his program had over The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon previously. That said, with this being the first time he's overtaken Fallon in the 18-49 demo, it's tough to say whether or not this was a fluke or the start of another new normal in Colbert's late-night run.
Granted, it's not as though things are entirely grim for The Tonight Show, although losing the 18-49 demo for the first time to Colbert may have some concerned. It's another step Colbert has taken over Jimmy Fallon, as the host struggled at the start but picked up steam after the 2016 Presidential Election and the two have traded blows ever since. Basically a slight stumble, even for the first time in a key demographic, shouldn't be entirely unexpected in this rivalry.
On the same token, The Tonight Show staff probably isn't thrilled it lost out last week in the key demographic as it has managed to beat The Late Show previously to date. The 18-49 crowd is one of the most coveted audiences in the ratings game, and if The Late Show can establish a larger hold on the audience it will probably be more cause for concern.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs on NBC weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (opens in new tab) airs at the same time on CBS. For a look at other things coming to television in the near future, visit our fall and midseason premiere guides.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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