For the first time since Donald Trump’s inauguration, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” edged out “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in total viewership ratings.
For the week of June 19-23, Fallon averaged 2.66 million viewers to Colbert’s 2.62 million, according to Nielsen data. It should be noted, however, that Colbert’s number does not include Thursday and Friday, as Colbert aired repeats in order to travel to Russia.
In addition, Fallon posted a 0.68 rating in adults 18-49, beating Colbert’s 0.42 by 0.26 of a rating point, or 62%. That represents the biggest margin of victory for Fallon in the measure since the week of Jan. 9-13. The rating is also Fallon’s highest since the week of April 3-7, when a week of episodes from Orlando averaged a 0.69.
Colbert’s viewership numbers have surged ever since the Trump’s election, with Colbert’s pointedly political comedy resonating strongly with viewers in Trump’s America. Colbert averaged 3.195 million viewers per episode for the traditional September-May TV season, compared to Fallon’s 3.173. This marked CBS’ first late-night win since the 1994-1995 season, excluding 2009-2010 when NBC replaced Conan O’Brien with Jay Leno midway through the season. “The Late Show” was also the only late-night program to post year-to-year growth in total viewers, up 11% from 2.89 million.
However, Fallon is still the late-night king of adults 18-49. For the season, Fallon averaged a 0.81 rating in the key demo, compared to Colbert’s 0.58, meaning Fallon enjoys a 33% advantage over his nearest competition in that measure, which is the measure most important to advertisers.