Just a year ago, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon was dominating the late-night television landscape. Fallon’s fun-loving, game-playing persona meshed with people looking for an escape from real life. Viewers, especially in the youngest demographic of 18-to-49-years-old, enjoyed watching the most famous celebrities acting silly and having fun for their benefit. Once the Trump election and presidency took over, though, that has not been the case.
CBS’ Stephen Colbert used his political satire and biting comedy to give the public what it was looking for in this new environment. He continually cut into Fallon’s ratings lead month after month before ultimately overtaking the NBC man. Now, in the fall of 2017, Colbert is dominating late night, and Fallon is at risk of falling to third place behind ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel takes after Colbert with his political commentary and desire to address head-on the issues of the day. He has no fear going after Trump or politics, and viewer data continues to prove that’s what the television public wants.
Colbert has burst past Fallon and is now averaging 3.7 million viewers per night during November. Fallon and Kimmel sit far behind, averaging 2.6 million and 2.4 million viewers respectively per night. Fans of the NBC funny man point out that he still holds the overall lead in the main advertising demographic (18-to-49), but that lead is consistently slipping away as well. In addition, none of these shows skew very young. Fallon’s average viewer age is 56 years old. Late night is not a young man’s game.