Update, 10:18 AM: James Corden’s unveiling as new host of CBS’s Late Late Show delivered 1.66 million viewers, according to preliminary figures – the franchise’s largest audience since November 14 of 2011 – as well as a 0.4 in adults 18-49, 0.5 in adults 25-54 and 0.2 in adults 18-34.
That’s a stretch from the number clocked by Late Late Show’s previous host Craig Ferguson, whose debut on January 3, 2005, clocked in at 2.1 million total viewers when the dust had settled.
CBS preferred to note that, compared to the September-December averages, Corden’s debut was up 13% in viewers (from 1.47 million), up 33% in adults 18-49 (from 0.3), up 25% in adults 25-54 (from 0.4) and even in adults 18-34. And, compared to the same night last year, Corden improved by 22% in viewers (from 1.36 million) and even in adults 25-54, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34.
Since Ferguson left Late Late Show in December, CBS has used guest hosts for the program (and one week aired The Talk After Dark) – and, calendar year to date, through the week of March 9, averaged 1.301 million viewers in the timeslot, including 389,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo and 110,000 viewers aged 18-34.
Meanwhile, Corden’s rival at NBC, Seth Meyers averaged 1.528 million viewers in the timeslot in the same period of time, including 592,000 viewers aged 18-49 and 182,000 aged 18-34. And, ABC’s Nightline, which airs against the first half hour of the other two networks’ late-night shows, averaged 1.710 million viewers, including 532,000 in the demo and 169,000 in the younger age bracket.
CBS, which knew it was hiring a relative unknown to take over the franchise, has got its work cut out for it.
Previous: James Corden’s tenure as host of CBS’ The Late Late Show began last night with a metered market 1.4/5 – which CBS noted, is up 27% versus the same night last year (1.1/4). He beat NBC’s Seth Meyers (1.2/4); ABC’s Nightline clocked a 1.4/5 against the first half hour of Corden’s premiere. That said, Late Late Show’s previous host Craig Ferguson had opened on January 3, 2005, clocking a metered market rating of 1.6/6, which eventually translated to an average of 2.1 million total viewers.
And, NBC noted, in the 25 markets with Local People Meters, Meyers’ Late Night (0.5/3 in 18-49) topped Late Late Show (0.4/2) in the demo, and that Meyers had finished within a tenth of his Monday season average in metered-market households (1.2 vs. 1.3) and matched its season average in the demo in the LPMs (0.5 vs. 0.5).
That said, Meyers enjoyed a much better lead-in. In Nielsen’s 56 metered markets, NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon logged a 2.4/6 while CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman mustered a 2.2/6 – ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live also nabbed a 2.4/6. In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, Fallon posted a 1.0/5 to Letterman’s 0.4/2 and Kimmel’s 0.7/3.
Last September, CBS officially announced it had cast the relatively unknown (in this country anyway) Corden to replace Ferguson as host of Late Late Show, though word had first trickled out nearly a month earlier that the network had lassoed Corden to step in — despite much speculation CBS would not go with another white guy — and another Brit to boot. CBS execs knew they’d be introducing a “newcomer” to their audience. In making the announcement about Corden, CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said Corden “is already a big star in the UK and he’s wowed American audiences on Broadway. We’re very excited to introduce his considerable and very unique talents to our network television audience on a daily basis.” She called Corden “the ultimate multi-hyphenate – a writer, creator and performer who is loved and respected in every medium he touches, including theater, comedy, music, film and television.”
Corden’s opening had something for even the hardest to please insomniac. He made a little celebrity news when guest Mila Kunis flashed a wedding ring, sending Ashton Kutcher fangirls into an ecstasy of grief, though gossip columnists quickly dismissed it as another of the couple’s trademark punks.
He made more news by coming out from behind his desk to interview stars Kunis and Tom Hanks, and having both guests on stage at the same time which, in the rigid world of late-night TV constitutes revolutionary change.
He kissed the ring of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and The Reporters Who Cover Television in his debut night’s opening video about Moonves’ search for his new Late Late Show with a golden ticket placed in one of many candy bars strewn among the many candidates, real or imagined, whose names the press had bandied about after Ferguson announced his exit last December: Joel McHale, Chris Rock, Simon Cowell, Lena Dunham, George Lopez, Billy Crystal, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, etc. Corden cleverly upped the industry luminary quotient when he was seen, in that video, heading off to Late Night Host School of Training, where Jay Leno whipped him into opening-monologue shape, Arnold Schwarzenegger slimmed him down and buffed him up, Allison Janney schooled him in the art of appearing amused by self-absorbed celebrities, and Meryl Streep provided comfort rattling off names of Lady Gaga tunes, among others.
By last night’s debut, Corden was slightly better known to American viewers, having been seen in John Carney’s music-minded feature Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, and starred opposite Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Emily Blunt in the feature adaptation of Broadway musical Into The Woods, which hit theaters in December. Across the Atlantic, Corden is know for hosting the BAFTA Award-winning UK sports-themed comedy game show A League Of Their Own on Sky 1 and starring in, producing and writing the BAFTA-nominated comedy thriller The Wrong Mans, which is available on Hulu.
Corden attracted international attention as the lead in comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, first at the National Theatre and on the West End in London and then on Broadway, where he won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. Additional theater credits include the worldwide tour of The History Boys in the lead role of Timms, whom he also played in the feature film adaptation. A spring 2015 Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum had been planned around Corden when he got the Late Late Show offer. Although the producers gave him an amicable sendoff, the production went into the Broadway equivalent of turnaround and hasn’t been heard from since.