Heavy focus on politics pays off for Colbert, Kimmel

Heavy focus on politics pays off for Colbert, Kimmel
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Stephen Colbert continues to win the late-night ratings race for CBS, with ABC's Jimmy Kimmel making strong gains among younger viewers and the formerly dominant Jimmy Fallon of NBC losing viewers.

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" is the only program showing year-over-year gains in total viewers and in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic that advertisers covet most, according to Nielsen Media Research. Overall, the former "Man Show" host is up by 9 percent in total viewers and 4 percent in the younger demographic.

Both Colbert and Fallon lost viewers when compared to the same time last year in the key demographic. Colbert has gained in total viewers overall, however.


A key component in Kimmel's rise appears to be his 11:35 p.m. program's focus on big political topics and debate of the day, particularly on health care and gun control.

Kimmel was credited in some media circles for helping kill a GOP health-care bill last month co-authored by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Overnight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (R-La.) after the late-night host called Cassidy a liar for stating pre-existing conditions would be covered under his plan.

The Daily Beast reported last month that Kimmel consulted with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE's (D-N.Y.) office on details surrounding the health-care debate.

Nielsen data show that Colbert, who dedicates ample time during his nightly monologues to slamming President Trump, is still beating Kimmel by 16 percent in the key 18–49 demographic.

The former "Colbert Report" host is also beating Kimmel by 29 percent in total viewers.

NBC's "Tonight Show" has gone in a different direction, with Fallon losing 25 percent of his total audience, averaging 2.75 million viewers since the new season began two weeks ago. Fallon still tops Kimmel in the coveted demographic but is losing viewers in that category as well.

The former "Saturday Night Live" star had beaten Colbert and Kimmel by comfortable margins since taking over for Jay Leno in 2014.

But since Trump has dominated the news landscape after capturing the Republican nomination in April 2016, Fallon's apolitical tone has fallen out of favor as the national conversation has become a decidedly political one.