Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, Stephen Colbert has been beating out Jimmy Fallon in the late-night ratings war with fearlessly scathing political commentary and the timeliest of jokes. The toppling of late-night’s longtime ratings king prompted some soul-searching in Fallon and his camp, who ultimately seem set on maintaining their show’s straight-down-the-middle temperament.
Now, for the first time in five months, Fallon’s “Tonight Show” has bested Colbert’s “Late Show” in total viewers.
Although by a slim margin, more people tuned in to NBC over CBS to catch Fallon last week. Deadline reports that “The Tonight Show” averaged 2,656,000 viewers, just 34,000 over the 2,622,000 people “The Late Show” attracted.
Maybe Jay Leno is right, and viewers have hit a point where they “want to use TV as an escape” from real life. Fallon also continues to win out in a key demographic important to advertisers, adults age 18 to 49; Colbert’s show still lags behind in that department.
However, Deadline reports that Colbert’s ratings didn’t include Thursday and Friday’s numbers, since his show ran repeats as its host traveled to Russia to tape material for future segments.
So Fallon’s total viewership victory may be short-lived. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, it may even evaporate as extended ratings come in showing how many people caught up on the program in the following three days after its original airing.
With all-new episodes of both shows this week, we predict viewers may be keen to see precisely what Colbert has been up to in the country presently giving Trump such a headache.