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Ratings: DVR Boost Lifts Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Premiere Week to No. 1 in Young Adults

Late-night daily programs typically don’t see big spikes in DVR playback, but delayed viewing has helped lift Stephen Colbert’s premiere week as host of “The Late Show” on CBS to a No. 1 finish among young adults.

According to Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates for the Sept. 7-11 frame, “Late Show” pulled into a tie with NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in adults 18-49 (1.5 rating), with the CBS program gaining 0.6 from its same-day ratings and erasing the NBC show’s 0.3 advantage. It also moved to No. 1 outright ahead of “Tonight” in adults 18-34 (1.1 rating), gaining 0.4 or 57%.

Colbert won his opening week in total viewers over Fallon, but that advantage grew from the previously reported 510,000 to about 1.21 million in L+7. On average, 6.07 million viewers watched the premiere week of “Late Show,” with 27% of that audience watching delayed in the seven-day window.

Digitally, the premiere episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Sept. 8 continues to rank as the best series debut ever for any CBS show in terms of full episode streams on CBS.com and the CBS apps — even topping all CBS primetime shows.

Premiere-to-date across digital platforms, all streams of “The Late Show” are up by triple-digit percentages over the previous season. “Late Show” has also generated the most social impressions of any late-night show, with tweets about the show being read 24 million times, according to Nielsen Social.

The high DVR playback is an indication of initial curiosity in the new CBS late-night host, and it remains to be seen if the program can count on similar boosts in the future.

In same-day ratings for Colbert’s second week (Sept. 14-18), “Tonight Show” won by nearly 40% in adults 18-49 rating (0.99 vs. 0.72) and by 22% in total viewers (3.49 million vs. 2.85 million). Colbert then got a boost last week from a visit by Donald Trump, which produced the show’s best ratings since its premiere night.


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