CBS may have cause for concern in late-night, where its “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” has been losing ground to NBC’s “Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.”
With the dust not yet fully settled on the rebooted late-night wars following the departure of CBS staple David Letterman, NBC’s still relatively new Fallon seems to have cemented his position as the segment front-runner.
The New York Post reports that “Fallon” is averaging 3.9 million total viewers through 12 weeks of the 2015-16 season, to 3.1 million for “Colbert.” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” also remains in the running, with 2.5 million. “Colbert has succeeded in maintaining Letterman’s second-place ranking, and it was unrealistic to think he could knock off Fallon, who had a year-and-a-half head start (and five years on ‘Late Night’ before that),” the Post notes.
In fact, Colbert has improved on Letterman’s results. The report notes that Colbert was up 32% from the time-slot numbers a year ago through the end of November, while Fallon dipped 3% and Kimmel was off 9%. But the trend as the season has progressed has been “alarming,” the story reports, noting that the gap between “The Late Show” and “The Tonight Show” was 364,000 viewers back in September, when Colbert debuted, and had grown to 1.5 million by the week of Dec. 14.
The report quotes Billie Gold, VP of programming research at media agency Amplifi, saying: “CBS probably does have a reason to worry. The ratings have gone down and I don’t see them going back up. Fallon has widened his lead. [Colbert is] doing worse than had been expected and he’s skewing a lot older than had been expected.”