Late-Night Ratings: NBC’s ‘Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ Widens Lead

Stephen Colbert Continues to Deliver Big Demo Gains for CBS

Late-Night Ratings: Jimmy Fallon Widens Lead Over Stephen Colbert
Courtesy of NBC

NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” has scored its largest ratings victory to date over “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” even as the CBS newcomer continues to post big gains over last year’s numbers with David Letterman as host.

According to Nielsen national estimates for the week of Oct. 12-16, “Tonight Show” averaged a 0.92 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 to beat CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (0.59 rating/3 share) by 56%. In their first five weekly encounters, the NBC program had won by margins of between 28% and 41%.

And after Colbert won his premiere week in total viewers over Fallon, “Tonight” has now won five straight weeks. Last week’s margin of 30% (3.409 million vs. 2.628 million) exceeded the prior week’s 22% and is also the largest to date over “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” pulled to within shouting distance of “Late Show” in 18-49 (0.52 vs. 0.59) and was about 400,000 behind in total viewers. The Alphabet show also had a good showing on Wednesday of this week with Michael J. Fox and Bernie Sanders as its guests.

Through four weeks of the television season (Sept. 21-Oct. 16), Colbert has improved upon last year’s performance with Letterman by 63% in 18-49 and by 23% in total viewers. Given the big demo gains at CBS, Fallon and Kimmel have held up pretty well, down 9% and 12% respectively. The biggest gains for CBS have come among adults 18-34, where “Late Show” is more than doubling up Letterman’s rating of a year ago (0.60 vs. 0.26) and is close behind “Tonight” (0.62).

NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” continued its hot start to the season last week, winning over CBS’ “Late Late Show with James Corden” by 39% in adults 18-49 (0.46 vs. 0.33). It also led by 27% in overall audience (1.572 million vs. 1.234 million), drawing 4% more viewers than in the comparable week a year ago.