When people said Trump would be good for comedy, they were thinking about punchlines, and not ratings.
And yet, the first month for Americans living under President Donald Trump has sent them scurrying to different TV stations after their late local news than they had been watching just a couple of months ago.
Just look at these February 2017 ratings, which saw Stephen Colbert rise from second (and sometimes third) to the top, over the heretofore seemingly indestructible Jimmy Fallon (I’d cue the hot takes about Fallon’s tussle with tousled hair, but we’ve already TL;dr’d them all already). In cable, meanwhile, Trevor Noah has found a second wind thanks to the White House transition, with his best ratings for Comedy Central since taking over for Jon Stewart back in September 2015.
Let’s see some stats! Note: Only examining the nightly shows, thus leaving out the weekly figures for HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee over on TBS (plus Netflix keeps its viewership stats secret, so sorry Chelsea).
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS): 3.02 million viewers (.5 rating in adults 18-49)
- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC): 2.87 million viewers (.7 rating)
- Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC): 2.14 million viewers (.5 rating)
- The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central): 1.5 million viewers (.74 rating)
So Colbert is winning the biggest overall audiences weeknights in late-night, while Noah is attracting the most eyeballs in the demographic of adults aged 18-49 preferred by advertisers.
Here are the most recent weekly figures showing even more of a breakdown among the multiple options, from the week of Feb. 13-17, 2017, when encore/repeats were rarest.
- The Daily Show, 1 million viewers (.39)
- Conan, 590,000 viewers (.26)
- Colbert, 3 million (.54)
- Fallon, 2.71 million (.67)
- Kimmel, 2.11 million (.42)
- Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC), 1.43 million (.36)
- Nightline (ABC), 1.41 million (.28)
- The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS), 1.34 million (.3)
If you want another randomly picked snapshot, how about these cable ratings from Wednesday, March 1?
Show/Network/Time/Rating Ages 18-49/Total Viewers
|DAILY SHOW||COMEDY CENTRAL||11:00 PM||0.34||907,000|
|CONAN||TBS NETWORK||11:00 PM||0.22||481,000|
|WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE||BRAVO||11:00 PM||0.14||428,000|
|@MIDNIGHT||COMEDY CENTRAL||11:31 PM||0.15||329,000|
|HIGH COURT||COMEDY CENTRAL||12:01 AM||0.09||192,000|
|DESUS & MERO||VICELAND||11:00 PM||0.06||111,000|