Late Night TV: CBS' 'The Late Show' On Top For 2019-20, Down 4% From Last Season

Amid COVID-19 pandemic disruptions -- and the absence of studio audiences and live guests -- late-night TV network talk shows' ratings for the just-completed TV season continue to see mostly modest declines.

CBS' “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is the leading broadcast TV network late-night program -- down 4% from a year ago to 3.452 million for the full-52 week season, from September 23, 2019 to September 18, 2020. 

CBS came in at 3.61 million through the same period a year ago.

NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” saw a steeper drop -- down 16% to 1.93 million viewers (vs. 2.29 million in 2018-2019).

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” slipped 3% to 1.91 million (vs. 1.97 million in 2018-2019).



Among 18-49 viewers, competition remains much closer: "Late Show" and “Tonight” came in each with a Nielsen 0.4 rating and "Kimmel" was at a 0.3.

A year ago, “Late Show” and “Tonight” were both at a 0.5, while “Kimmel” was at a 0.4.

This past season, among 25-54 viewers, “Late Show” was on top with a 0.6 rating, while “Tonight” and “Kimmel” were tied at a 0.5.

As with many other TV shows, production of late-night talk shows includes many virtual one-on-one interviews with no live audiences.

Recently, some late-night talk shows -- like HBO’s weekly “Real Time With Bill Maher” -- returned earlier this month to a live TV set -- with socially distanced guests and a limited 25-person studio audience.

1 comment about "Late Night TV: CBS' 'The Late Show' On Top For 2019-20, Down 4% From Last Season".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 28, 2020 at 9:03 a.m.

    Wayne, the stats you cite certainly demonstrate the effects of rating fragmentation. For example among  the so-called "key demo"---my italics, not yours----CBS and NBC  drew 18-49 average commercial minute ratings of 0.4 and "clobbered"--again, my italics---ABC, which only attained a 0.3  rating. Wow! In times past Carson all by himself drew 18-49 ratings equal to the combined current ratings of all three broadcast networks, for all of their late night stuff,including the late, late programs, plus whatever cable opposition they face and then some.

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