Presidential Candidates Fuel Late-Night TV Comedy

Politics and particularly presidential campaigns generate fantastic fodder for late-night TV shows. The Donald Trump multiplier has made this cycle additionally engaging and ripe for talk-show comedy.

While much about the candidates is discussed during the shows, they serve to further the existing conversation rather than redirect it.

Over the period starting Dec. 8 of last year, and ending March 8, 2016, Amobee’s Brand Intelligence data analyzed digital content engagement associated with presidential candidates during late-night talk and TV shows.

The study looked at "SNL" and shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Bill Maher, James Corden, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Larry Wilmore and Conan O’Brien. 

Seven late-night talk shows had their highest digital content engagement about presidential candidates around Donald Trump: Fallon, Colbert, Kimmel, Oliver, Meyers, Wilmore and O’Brien.



While we can assume that much of the content is comical and pokes fun at Trump, the audiences may already have strong opinions on the matter. In the case of Fallon, for example, a show on which Trump was a guest, the self-deprecating nature of the mirror skit may have endeared him to some wavering Republicans.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the second candidate most associated with late-night shows, being the candidate most linked to "SNL," Maher and Corden. Bill Maher endorses Sanders, and the" SNL" impersonations by Larry David went viral.

Over the past three months, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the candidate most associated with Trevor Noah’s show, largely fueled by the Daily Show’s #CruzYourOwnAdventure campaign. Last, and fittingly, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was most associated with Samantha Bee’s show, again mostly around a harsh coverage of Rubio’s robotic debate performance.

Late-night shows are having a blast with this unhinged campaign cycle; engagement does increase around presidential campaign content. After John Oliver aired his highly publicized episode about Donald Trump, digital content engagement jumped 14x between Feb. 29 and March 1 for his show.

Significantly, however, on March 1, only 2.1% of all digital content engagement associated with Trump was related to John Oliver. The overall conversation does not change due to coverage on these late shows, but the entertainment value holds strong.

One can’t help but wonder what Jon Stewart would have done in this chaotic election year.

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