Jimmy Fallon pulled ahead of Stephen Colbert in the late-night ratings war for the first time in 5 months

Jimmy Fallon Stephen ColbertTheo Wargo/GettyStephen Colbert pours a bucket of pennies onto Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ desk after losing a bet.

Stephen Colbert has been beating Jimmy Fallon in late-night show ratings for the past five months — until last week.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” finally managed to surpass “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” by 34,000 viewers last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. These are Fallon’s highest ratings since he filmed a series of episodes in Orlando that aired in April to celebrate the opening of his
new ride at the Universal Orlando Resort.

It’s still a close race — a margin of 34,000 viewers isn’t much, especially considering the fact that Colbert aired reruns while shooting in Russia last Thursday and Friday, and Colbert’s video on demand (VOD) & DVR views have yet to be added up (which could potentially push Colbert’s overall weekly ratings past Fallon’s).

But while Fallon’s momentary resurgence may be due to the absence of his chief competition, his small spike in viewership does raise the question of whether or not some viewers have moved on, or rather returned, after Fallon’s infamous tousling of President Trump’s hair.

Fallon’s viewership started to decrease five months ago, shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Fallon’s softball interview and on-air Trump hair tousle was widely criticised by liberals, who argued it humanized Trump in the midst of his presidential campaign and helped him win the 2016 election.

Although there doesn’t appear to be any concrete data that shows the political leanings of “The Tonight Show” audience, the late night genre as a whole seems to have a more liberal slant than ever these days, with Trump serving as the butt of most monologue jokes. Variety recently posted findings from a study, conducted at the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, that tallied up the number of Trump jokes delivered by late night hosts during Trump’s first 100 days in office. Colbert told the most Trump jokes (337 total), while Fallon lagged behind in third place with 231 Trump jokes.

According to Business Insider’s findings, late night hosts with sharp liberal skewed political critiques, such as Stephen Colbert (Fallon’s top competition), Samantha Bee, and Bill Maher have all seen sizeable increases in their viewership since President Trump has been in office. But while some late night hosts have made their political leanings more obvious than others, Fallon, has remained fairly apolitical.

While some viewers may have sought out more politically-charged humour in the wake of the election, Fallon’s middle-of-the-road demeanour could win out in the end — or at least until Colbert gets back on another hot streak.

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