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The Late Show Tops The Tonight Show in Premiere Week Ratings

Comedy News Stephen Colbert
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The first match of the 2018-19 late-night ratings tournament goes to CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

The Late Show drew the largest total audience for the week of Sept. 24, and it tied NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in the adults 18-49 demographic, per THR. To compare these statistics with those from this week last year, Colbert’s show still led in total viewers, but Fallon landed the demographic.

In live plus three-day ratings for the premiere week, The Late Show averaged a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.72 million viewers. The Tonight Show came next, tallying a 0.5 and 2.45 million viewers, and then ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, scoring a 0.4 and 1.96 million viewers.

The Late Show also saw more views after its initial airtime, adding 580,000 viewers over three days versus 100,000 for Tonight and 70,000 for Kimmel.

These numbers could be explained in part due to Colbert’s coverage of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Colbert devoted his entire monologue to breaking down (and at times, tastefully satirizing) the hearing, in which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in high school.

With Colbert’s presentation of the subject, which managed to garner some laughs without making light of the pressing situation, The Late Show landed its best Thursday night rating since the series’ premiere week in 2015. Thursday’s episode earned a 3.0 in the broadcast markets, its best since drawing a 3.3 on Sept. 10, 2015. The last time The Late Show received higher than a 3.0 was James Comey’s appearance on April 17, 2018, for which the episode earned a 3.1.

As for the late, late-night shows, Late Night With Seth Meyers did the best in the 12:35 a.m. slot for the week with a 0.3 in the 18-49 demographic and 1.51 million viewers. With a 0.2 and 1.32 million viewers, The Late Late Show With James Corden came into the end of the week as the runner-up.

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