TV Ratings: Colbert Loses to Fallon on Night 2 as 'Late Show' Drops

Stephen Colbert Late Show Premiere - H
Courtesy CBS

After a strong debut Tuesday, Stephen Colbert moved into the No. 2 slot on Wednesday. Shedding 35 percent in the overnight metered market ratings, CBS' Late Show then fell behind NBC's Tonight in both total viewership and adults 18-49.

Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show, bolstered by a visit from the comedian's pal and frequent viral video partner Justin Timberlake, jumped in key demo of adults 18-49 — easily topping Colbert in Local People Meters. Fast official ratings also find Colbert lagging, with a 0.8 rating in the key demo below Fallon's 1.2 rating. Among total viewers, Late Show slid nearly 3 million from Tuesday to 3.66 million. That put it behind a rebounding Tonight, which nabbed an audience of 4.07 million

Previously, Colbert's overnight rating dropped from a 4.9 to a 3.2 in households. Fallon's jumped from a 2.4 to a 3.1 rating. In Local People Meters' demo measurement, Colbert lost half of his 18-49 showing. The episode was off by nearly half, from a 1.5 to a 0.8 rating.

It's still a vast difference from the type of competition seen between Fallon and Colbert's predecessor, David Letterman. His Late Show was relegated to second — or often third — place status behind Tonight. And Wednesday's Late Show showing is still more than double what Letterman brought in on the comparable night last year.

All non-Colbert 11:35 p.m. broadcasts were up on Wednesday, with ABC's Jimmy Kimmel also slightly lifted in his third-place slot.

Colbert's dips from the premiere are expected, but a demo loss to Fallon on night two has got to sting. The rest of the week could likely see the balance shift again — as Colbert welcomes Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, and Fallon has Donald Trump on Friday.

At the very least, it's shaping up to be a much friendlier late-night battle. Fallon made a taped appearance on Colbert's Late Show premiere, returning the favor of when Colbert stopped by his 2014 Tonight debut.