Late-night comedy shows have traditionally been a lighthearted, fun way for viewers to end their days with a laugh, but recently they have turned into a political mess. Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel have been known to viciously attack President Donald Trump for just about everything he has done and, eventually, Trump fired back at them on Twitter:
Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very “unfunny” & repetitive material, always anti-Trump! Should we get Equal Time?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2017
But now, the ratings are hinting that Trump just might be right, as they show the same trajectory as the NFL and Hollywood awards shows in a downward spiral of embarrassment.
The Washington Examiner reports:
Stephen Colbert joked about the president’s “feeble, fucking anemic firefly of a soul.” Seth Meyers teased that the vice president was somehow “already sunburned” before his visit to devastated Puerto Rico. And Jimmy Kimmel, that comedian turned public conscience, lectured all week long about everything from healthcare to mental health to gun control.
But chances are good you didn’t watch any of it because viewership isn’t doing so well. Of course, they’re still the kings of late-night comedy. Nobody has cast out that lineup because nobody has really showed up to watch.
While America was laughing at Twitter and watching YouTube videos, late night was slipping. Writing in the Transom, Ben Domenech of The Federalist points out that the late-night viewership of ABC, CBS, plus NBC this week barely broke 8 million viewers. Not long ago retired NBC funnyman Jay Leno was bringing in 6 million viewers all on his own.
What caused the network comics to start flopping? Obviously, the generational demographics and technological developments can’t be discounted — millennials don’t watch as much television, and if they do it’s online or after the fact. Assuming those younger viewers aren’t suddenly going to stay up late to watch broadcast TV, then maybe something else has to give.
But compare the late-night comedy numbers to Sean Hannity over at Fox News and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Those hacks don’t tell jokes (at least not well, anyway) but they still bring in more views. Domenech points out that Hannity averaged 3.5 million viewers, Maddow another 2.65 million last week. (Granted, these shows air before 11 p.m.)
Perhaps the late-night lineup should consider dialing down the politics to keep the viewers they have and stop alienating the 63 million people who voted for Donald Trump. At the very least, it’s worth a try.