Late Night Loser: Stephen Colbert Sinks to 4th Place

Stephen Colbert

Now that Steven Colbert has sunk to a humiliating 4th place in the ratings, permit me a rare told you so.

Back when the move was announced, it made no sense to me. Steven Colbert had no audience at Comedy Central. Because he’s a shrill left-winger, the DC Media love him and his attacks on Republicans constantly went viral at CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and the like. But as far as  the American people, Colbert’s ratings were always embarrassing. Fewer than 1% of the population tuned into “The Colbert Report,” and he was regularly beat by reruns of shows like “The Family Guy.”

Nevertheless, because CBS is more interested in electing Hillary Clinton than ratings, Colbert was plucked to replace David Letterman. To no one’s surprise, the result has been nothing short of catastrophic. In the all-important 18-49 age demo, Colbert is now in 4th place behind Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and even Seth Meyers, who is on an hour later than Colbert:

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – 1.28

Jimmy Kimmel Live – 0.65

Late Night with Seth Meyers 0.62

Late Show with Stephen Colbert – 0.54

That’s just for last week. As Mediaite points out, the trend is undeniable:

Colbert’s numbers are down almost 45 percent since his debut week, and have only increased once week-to-week since the week ending on September 21st, trending downward slowly but consistently.

One more note: Colbert averaged a .58 in the demo in November (a sweeps month), a 16 percent rise over Letterman’s numbers last year. An improvement is always good news, but given Letterman’s decline at the end of his career (save for his final week sendoff), just 16 percent over a poor number and finishing 3rd or 4th can’t be what CBS thought it was signing up for.

CBS did not hire Colbert, and pour a ton of money into promoting him, expecting a measly +16% increase in Letterman’s dismally low ratings. Sixteen percent of close-to-zero is still close-to-zero. For the crucial November sweeps, Colbert managed to nudge Letterman’s collapse up only a tenth of a point:

“The Late Show” is the only 11:35 p.m. show that grew year over year. It was up a tenth in both adults 18-49 (0.6 vs. 0.5) and adults 18-34 (0.2 vs. 0.1).

Colbert is a smug, demagogic, preachy left-winger. At that time of night, even Democrats want to tune out and escape reality for a bit. Somewhere around 60 million Americans voted for Barack Obama, and Colbert can’t even convince 5% of them to watch.

Here’s the other thing: We live in a television age so fractured and divided, you no longer have to pull the kind of ratings expected just 10 years ago to be considered a big success.

The bar is absurdly low to be considered a ratings winner these days, Colbert can’t even clear that.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               



Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               


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