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The Late Shift: A Deep Dive Into Current Viewership Trends for Late-Night Talk Shows

B&C partnered with Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 7.7 smart TVs and device, to reveal viewership trends around late-night talk shows. We examined ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, as well as two TBS shows: Conan and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (the latter, unlike the others, is a weekly show) for the full month of January. (Full Frontal also arguably falls outside of the late-night daypart, as traditionally defined, but most TV critics and industry observers seem to group it in the late-night talk genre, so we’re including it here.)

Overall, most people are watching these shows live — which makes sense because they offer timely commentary on the day's news and pop culture. The one exception is Full Frontal — it has more DVR viewership than the other shows.

There's also a good amount of network loyalty going on: viewers tend to consume programs on the same network that the late-night show is broadcast. Also interesting is that when it comes to ABC, NBC and CBS, there’s some cross-viewing of late-night shows: people who tend to watch one are likely to watch additional late-night series.

TBS-viewing households are more likely to watch sitcoms on TBS or other channels such as Comedy Central and FX, while ABC/CBS/NBC-viewing households often check out dramas and reality shows on the broadcast networks.

A note about how to read the graphs below: for the show and network charts, the index describes the affinity with the network or show — the higher the index, the more affinity. The percent of TVs means the number of TVs that watched the show that also watched that network or show.

Jimmy Kimmel Live(ABC)

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert


Full Frontal with Samantha Bee(TBS)