The NY Times reports for the week of Jan. 30, Mr. Colbert averaged roughly 2.8 million viewers, eclipsing Mr. Fallon’s audience by a slim margin of 12,000 viewers.
NBC’s “Tonight Show” still managed to prevail in the category that matters most to advertisers — Mr. Fallon had a 0.67 rating among adults under 50 years old, 40 percent better than CBS’s “Late Show,” which had a 0.48 rating. But the total viewer result is not merely symbolic. “The Tonight Show” had largely maintained an enormous lead over “The Late Show,” and this is the first time Mr. Colbert has posed a multiple-week challenge since he took over the show in September 2015. It is the second time in three weeks that “The Late Show” has virtually tied “The Tonight Show” in the ratings.
For the 2016-17 season, “The Tonight Show” has averaged 418,000 more viewers than “The Late Show.” But Mr. Colbert has narrowed the deficit. In the 2015-16 season, “The Tonight Show” averaged 3.6 million viewers, giving it an enormous lead of 877,000 viewers over “The Late Show.”
Jimmy Kimmel’s ABC show is in third place in both total viewers and among adults under 50.
Mr. Colbert’s show has taken on a political charge in recent months, and it has only accelerated since Mr. Trump won the election. He has been openly critical of Mr. Trump, and last week Jon Stewart, Mr. Colbert’s old late-night partner on Comedy Central, appeared in a scathing segment.
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