Stephen Colbert is once again the most popular late-night host in America, beating Fallon for the second week in a row in total viewers ― a first. Colbert’s “Late Show” on CBS averaged just over 3 million viewers last week, about 134,000 more than Fallon’s “Tonight Show” on NBC, Variety reports from Nielsen data. The week prior, Colbert’s show had slipped into the lead in total viewership by a margin of 12,000 viewers.
Fallon’s show, however, continues to dominate in a specific demographic popular with advertisers: adults ages 18-49. Colbert has managed to grow his audience thanks to older viewers, ages 50 and above, Deadline reports.
The late-night ratings war will no doubt continue as turmoil in the Trump administration seemingly becomes the norm. And the two top hosts’ approach to current events could not be more different.
On Monday night, Colbert ran a segment spoofing White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s assertion that he’d go “on any show” to defend Trump’s false statements, challenging the adviser to appear on “The Late Show.” The host also took issue with Miller’s statement that Trump’s powers “will not be questioned.” (”Let me test that theory: What the f**k are you talking about?”) Fallon took a lighter approach with jokes about Trump’s Secret Service code name (”Agent Orange”) and his alias (”Hugh Jands”) before diving into some Valentine’s Day tips and “Roomba Pong.”
On Tuesday, Colbert kicked off the show with another monologue about the news cycle, slamming former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as a “dummy.” (”Dummy, dummy.”) The same night, Fallon played charades and shared a dubstep version of the “Seinfeld” theme song.
Political late-night shows have been making a splash, with NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” ― home of Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonations and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer ― enjoying a six-year ratings high.
For comedy writers with sharp takes on current events, the Trump administration has provided a well of material that doesn’t seem like it’ll go dry anytime soon. And audiences are drinking it in.