The ratings for the 2018-2019 TV season are in and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is uncontested ruler of late-night TV.
The CBS mainstay thumped rivals “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on NBC and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC for the third straight year — while also stealing the crown for coveted viewers aged 18 to 49, according to Nielsen data.
Colbert, who took the host job in September 2015, finished the season, which officially ended Wednesday, with 3.82 million average nightly viewers, dwarfing Fallon’s 2.44 million and Kimmel’s 2.04 million.
Although the trio lost viewers compared with the year-earlier season, Colbert’s dip of 2 percent was the shallowest, with Fallon off 9 percent and Kimmel down 10 percent.
Colbert also drew the most viewers in the 18-to-49 age category for the first time in 25 years when David Letterman was “Late Show” host during the Clinton administration. The results indicate Colbert’s anti-Trump antics continue to resonate with viewers.
The contest in the sought-after demo was tight, however. Colbert and Fallon both scored a 0.5 rating, with Colbert breaking the tie by counting 679,000 viewers versus Fallon’s 659,000.
It took Colbert less than four years to close a sizable gap in the group — he had 487,000 fewer viewers than Fallon when he started. What’s more, he has scored the gains during a time when younger viewers are abandoning network TV for the internet and other digital diversions.
For its part, NBC said Fallon’s “Tonight” — with the exception of WWE programming and specials — is most-viewed entertainment program on TV across social media and the most popular late-night entertainment show on YouTube.