It was expected that Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election would have a net positive impact on late-night and comedic television. Shows like Saturday Night Live have certainly benefited from a ratings boost thanks to Trump. Oddly enough, only certain late-night talk show hosts are seeing a similar benefit. Not surprisingly, it is the more politically leaning hosts that feel the jump.
While NBC’s Jimmy Fallon had been destroying his competition for months and months, if not years, that trend has reversed in 2017. Instead, CBS’s Stephen Colbert is the ratings king in February and into the month of March. Colbert had been having trouble ironing out an audience as he broke onto the network television scene. Once politics overwhelmed everything else, Colbert found his groove.
Audiences were not looking for the silliness and escapism that Fallon delivers. Instead, they wanted raw and real takes on the wild election and presidential dealings. That is what Colbert gives. He topped three million viewers in the overnight numbers from this past week, according to Deadline, which was his fourth straight week winning the ratings battle over Fallon and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel. The latter felt an uptick after his hosting the Oscars, but that pales in comparison to the steady lead Colbert has claimed.
Political coverage and satire is also what later-night’s Seth Meyers has become known for. His ‘Closer Looks’ skits are must-watch as he distances himself from the silliness of his 12:35 AM peer, James Corden. It is interesting to think what type of dominant pairing Colbert and Meyers would form if they were on the same station, rather than forcing viewers to flip to a competitor during the change-over.