- Michael Loccisan/Getty; Paul Zimmerman/Getty; Skye Gould/Business Insider
While President Donald Trump has been a source of division among Americans, most of television’s late-night hosts are in agreement: Trump makes for good joke fodder and pointed criticism.
But which ones are capitalizing the most in the time since Trump has taken office? Business Insider pulled the Nielsen ratings for TV’s late-night shows to find out.
We compared the average viewership for each from January 1, 2016, to February 26, 2016, against the same dates in 2017 to see who had the most growth in viewership year-over-year (and who’s been declining). What we found was pretty surprising.
Jimmy Fallon, once the young king of late night, has been dethroned by a rising Stephen Colbert, and political comedy in general is cashing in.
Take a look at the late-night winners and losers under Trump in the chart below:
- Skye Gould/Business Insider
Samantha Bee saw the greatest increase in her audience under Trump – by a huge 144%. Bee’s weekly TBS show, “Full Frontal,” premiered only on February 8 last year, however, and had the chance to steadily build her audience from scratch. But her pointed criticism could’ve fallen flat with audiences. Thankfully for her, that’s clearly not the case.
- “Full Frontal”/TBS/YouTube
HBO’s weekly show “Real Time with Bill Maher” took the No. 2 slot for audience growth with a 68% increase in his audience. Maher saw a spike in viewership recently surrounding his controversial interview with conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, an episode that saw a 12% boost in viewers week-over-week.
Of course, broadcast takes the biggest piece of the cake. Among those shows, Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” can claim the biggest increase since Trump took office. His decision to go harder on politics instead of ignoring his “Colbert Report” roots, led by a new showrunner brought on last year, seems to have been a good one. Colbert’s audience grew 13% over the same period last year.
The greatest fall was that of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show.” Fallon has lost about 17% of his audience year-over-year. Fallon, whose show is known for its off-the-wall celebrity games, may have taken a big hit with his softball interview with Trump during the presidential campaign. Once the No. 1 late-night show in broadcast TV, the “The Tonight Show” has lost the ratings war to Colbert in recent weeks. Leaks from the show suggest he’s going to try to follow in the CBS host’s footsteps and get more political.
Fallon’s ratings problem is pretty much every NBC late-night host’s problem, as he’s not helping to bring eyeballs to the programs that follow him. Seth Meyers, who has been celebrated for his sharp political commentary on “Late Night,” is down 8%. Even Carson Daly, who isn’t political at all, is seeing a 7% dip in audience for “Last Call.”