In One Way, Colbert Is New King of Late Night

'Late Show' beat NBC's 'Tonight Show' with Jimmy Fallon for the adults-under-50 set
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 7:39 AM CDT
Colbert Notches Win for CBS It Hasn't Seen Since Letterman
Stephen Colbert attends PaleyFest's "An Evening With Stephen Colbert" at the Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2019, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Not since David Letterman's early days at CBS as host of the Late Show has the network reigned over a key segment of the late-night domain. That just changed, according to Nielsen's newest ratings. Per the Hollywood Reporter, the Late Show With Stephen Colbert just assumed the No. 1 spot among late-night shows for the just-ended 2018-19 season in what Vulture calls an "all-important" demographic: adults ages 18 to 49. The last time the Late Show claimed that prize was in the 1994-95 season. For the third season in a row, the Late Show also nabbed the top spot for number of viewers overall.

Vulture notes much of Colbert's success can be attributed to his "aggressive focus on President Trump's travails," with the first two years of the current administration offering Colbert "virtually uninterrupted growth, both in overall audience and among younger viewers." That's since slowed down, with Late Show losing about 100,000 viewers this season, or about 2% of its viewership. Still, the other late-night powerhouses are also losing traction: In the same 11:35pm slot, NBC's Tonight with Jimmy Fallon lost 9%, while ABC's Kimmel suffered a 10% drop. (More Stephen Colbert stories.)

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