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The series premiere notched 963,000 viewers at 11:30 p.m. and a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49.
Any disappointment over Wilmore not cracking 1 million viewers should be taken lightly. The premiere happened on the tail-end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, with a modest 1.2 million lead-in from The Daily Show. Comedy Central’s late-night block, like all of TV, also has been bringing in more and more viewers with time-shifting — and Wilmore stands to grow significantly after people sample throughout the week.
That said, Wilmore has some big shoes to fill, stepping into Comedy Central’s choice 11:30 p.m. time slot. The half-hour, home to Stephen Colbert for the last nine years, built on the 11 p.m. success of Jon Stewart and helped make the cable network a late-night destination that has rivaled the broadcast networks.
The first outing has been greeted warmly by critics, with The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tim Goodman writing, “As for first impressions, I liked it. Wilmore himself is a smart, funny performer who is no stranger to The Daily Show crowd. Most viewers to his show probably knew what to expect for the most part.”
Colbert’s success in the time slot, which sometimes even rivaled his lead-in, wrapped on a high note in December. The final episode of The Colbert Report nabbed 2.5 million viewers on its premiere night. His next gig, hosting CBS’ Late Show, was recently slated for a Sept. 8 start date.
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