After winning his first week hosting CBS’ program in L+7, Colbert finished second in total viewers for Week 2. But Week 3, which also was the first week of the official TV season, Colbert climbed back on top, gaining 930K viewers when delayed viewing for up to 7 days is factored in, to total 4.15M, passing Fallon’s 4.04M. Not coincidentally, Trump was Colbert’s big “get” that week. “I want to thank you, not only for being here, but for running for president,” Colbert told Trump on The Late Show that night. “I’m not going to say this stuff writes itself, but you certainly do deliver it on time every day,” added Colbert, who had been feasting on Trump’s candidacy since debuting as host of CBS’s late-night show. Colbert didn’t so much interview Trump as perform WWE Theatre with the reality TV star turned GOP front-runner, pretending he was thwapping the guy, but making clear it was all for fun and ratings.
Not coincidentally, about a week earlier, Trump had visited NBC’s late-night rival, Tonight Show and pounded Colbert in the ratings that night. And, remember who won that week in total viewers? Tonight Show.
Trump didn’t have as much pull with younger viewers when he was Colbert’s guest his third week as Letterman’s replacement. In fact, while Colbert once again took the 18-34 demo, as he did in his first two weeks on CBS, it was by his smallest margin to date in L+7: 0.79 to Fallon’s 0.78.
And, in the slightly older, 18-49 demo, Fallon remained on top for a third consecutive week against Colbert on CBS, though Week 3 Colbert’s 1.1 rating, relative to Fallon’s 1.21 rating, was closer than it had been Week 2.