UPDATE with fast-national stats: An estimated 6.6 million people watched Stephen Colbert’s debut as host of CBS’ Late Show last night. That’s a 4.1 million upgrade from the crowd that caught his much-ballyhooed The Colbert Report finale when it aired on Comedy Central last December 18.
Colbert whomped his broadcast competition last night, as anticipated. Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC logged 2.92 million viewers; ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live clocked 1.75M.
In the demo, Colbert’s premiere nabbed a 1.39 rating, outstripping Fallon’s 0.88 and Kimmel’s 0.35.
Colbert’s unveiling, as was also expected, came in shy of David Letterman’s exit from Late Show – a celebrity-studded event marking the end of Dave’s groundbreaking three-decade-plus career hosting a broadcast late-night show. Letterman had pulled a 3.06 demo rating and 13.76M viewers of all ages in his May 20 so-long. In contrast, Colbert’s lower-key opener included guests George Clooney and GOP White House hopeful Jeb Bush. In his opening last night, Colbert also paid tribute to Letterman and his impact on the entire late-night landscape.
And, for comparison sake, Colbert’s opening came in short of Fallon’s takeover of the nation’s No. 1-ranked late-night show, from Jay Leno, on February 17, 2014. Fallon’s ascension to that throne, on an Olympics night, though with a late start time, had bagged a crowd of 11.314M, and a demo 3.8 rating.
To the surprise of no one, Late Show on CBS.com experienced its highest premiere-day traffic ever and streams of the full episode are up triple digits compared to last year to date. Colbert’s first night out was the most social entertainment show on television yesterday, according to Nielsen Social Guide.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY AM: The debut of Stephen Colbert as host of CBS’ Late Show scored a 4.9/13 household rating, according to early metered-market stats, trouncing competitors as expected. Colbert’s show ran an extra 6 minutes across all markets, which means another full quarter hour of data is added to Colbert’s metered-market average. This means preliminary numbers might be even less reliable than usual. NBC’s Tonight Show, whose star Jimmy Fallon made two cameos on Colbert’s debut show last night, clocked a 2.4/6 ; ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel a 1.4/4.
CBS boasted the unveiling of Colbert’s Late Show was up 172% from the same night last year (1.8/05) and up 123% compared to Late Show‘s season premiere last year (2.2/04).
For comparison sake, when Jimmy Fallon debuted as host of NBC’s Tonight Show on February 17, 2014, he scored a metered market 7.1/20 and a 3.4 rating in the demo. Later in the day, Fallon’s official national stats: 11.314 million total viewers and a 3.8 demo rating. The Colbert Report finale on Comedy Central, on December 18 of last year clocked a 1.6/4 in households and a 1.0 rating. And when David Letterman signed on as CBS’ first Late Show host this past May 20, he logged a preliminary 9.4/24 household rating and a 2.8 rating in the demo which, when the dust settled, resulted in an average audience of 13.76 million viewers and a 3.06 demo rating.