Who’s on Top in Late-Night? CBS and NBC Each Have Their Own Spin, But Here Are the Actual Numbers

Feb 22, 2017  •  Post A Comment

To hear CBS tell the story, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is now the No. 1 show in late-night. But NBC’s take has “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” on top.

The truth is they’re both right, with CBS winning total viewers while NBC takes the key demos — not an unfamiliar breakdown for the two networks, who often see similar ratings comparisons in prime time.

CBS announced the late-night ratings news for the week of Feb. 13-17 with a release this morning under the headline “‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ #1 in Late-Night for the Third Straight Week.” The network also noted: “‘The Late Show’ Extends Its Winning Advantage to +296,000 Viewers.”

The numbers are based on Nielsen Media Research Live+Same Day data, focusing on the figures for total viewers.

Analyzing the same data, NBC puts the focus on key demos, especially 18-49. NBC’s announcement runs under the headline: “‘Tonight Show’ Wins the Week of Feb. 13-17 in Every Key Demographic, Taking Five of Five Nights in Adults 18-49.”

The NBC release adds: “‘Tonight’ Tops ‘Late Show’ by +24% in Adults 18-49, ‘Kimmel’ by +60%.”

So who’s on top? Both CBS and NBC have a claim to No. 1, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Here are the numbers for late-night for the week of Feb. 13, 17, based on Nielsen L+SD:

ADULTS 18-49

11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Tonight,” 0.67 rating, 4 share

CBS “Late Show,” 0.54/3

ABC “Kimmel,” 0.42/2 *

12:35-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC “Nightline,” 0.28/2

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Late Night,” 0.36/3 *

CBS “The Late Late Show,” 0.30/2 *

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC “Last Call,” 0.22/2 *


11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

CBS “Late Show,” 3.004 million viewers

NBC “Tonight,” 2.708 million viewers

ABC “Kimmel,” 2.110 million viewers *

12:35-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC “Nightline,” 1.410 million viewers

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Late Night,” 1.427 million viewers *

CBS “The Late Late Show,” 1.341 million viewers *

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC “Last Call,” 0.791 million viewers *

* Friday’s “Kimmel,” “Late Night,” “Late Late Show” and “Last Call” were encores.

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