Stephen Colbert Debuted to Big Ratings Last Night, and Jimmy Fallon Did Well, Too

Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush chats with Stephen on the premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Tuesday Sept. 8, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

CBS’s Late Show With Stephen Colbert kicked off with an easy ratings victory Tuesday night, attracting a solid first-night audience of just over 6.5 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen data. Not counting David Letterman’s farewell week, Late Show earned its biggest audience for a Tuesday show since 1995. More important, Colbert’s first outing did very well with viewers under 50, delivering a 1.4 rating in the advertiser-friendly demographic — nearly three times the demo ratings David Letterman was averaging in his final season. Not unexpectedly, Colbert beat both of his broadcast rivals at 11:35 p.m., finishing well ahead of both Jimmy Fallon (2.9 million; 0.9 in adults 18–49) and Jimmy Kimmel (1.8 million; 0.4 in adults 18–49). The good news for Fallon, as an NBC rep noted, was that Colbert’s arrival didn’t impact Fallon’s Nielsen numbers among younger viewers at all: The Tonight Show host matched his summer ratings average in the demo. It should be noted that ratings for Colbert were probably hurt just a bit by the fact that the show ran longer than an hour, and that it debuted on a night when CBS didn’t do much in the ratings in prime time. Still, Late Show under Colbert is off to a solid start — and Fallon has no reason to be concerned about his audience so far either. 

Stephen Colbert Debuts to Big Ratings