Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah beat Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in online views for the year thanks to the 2016 election.
Jimmy Fallon has become the undisputed king of late-night TV since taking over The Tonight Show several years ago, consistently taking the spot in the ratings over his competitors by a wide margin. While some of his newer colleagues have struggled to find large audiences in the past year, one place where they are catching up is online.
According to Jumpshot’s (h/t The Daily Beast) second annual look at late-night online viewership, Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show took the top spot in online views for 2016, capturing 21 percent of worldwide streaming traffic among the late-night series, followed by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in second at 17 percent, and Fallon falling 25 percent compared to last year to third place with 15 percent.
The analytics firm only took a look at content viewed on YouTube and the shows’ official network websites, and did not take into account views on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. However, it’s clear that more viewers are migrating to the video-sharing site to watch late-night content than ever before, doubling from last year, with Colbert and Noah as two of the beneficiaries. The Late Show‘s online views are up triple digits compared to 2015, while The Daily Show rose 166 percent from when the Comedy Central series first began posting episode clips on its own YouTube channel last year.
Colbert started at a disadvantage when he succeeded David Letterman as host of the CBS program because the show lacked an online presence. Even now, its 1.9 million subscribers number pales in comparison to the 12.6 million subscribed to Fallon’s YouTube account. But he did see significant gains during his week of lives episodes covering the Republican National Convention, with his reunion with Jon Stewart topping the list with nearly 16 million views, while Laura Benanti’s Melania Trump impression came in second with 9 million. A clip of Michelle Obama giving her best Barack Obama impression followed closely behind.
Meanwhile, Noah’s top clips of the year were not all specifically related to the election. His recent showdown with conservative pundit Tomi Lahren was viewed 6 million times when YouTube views and numbers from the Comedy Central website are combined, including for the 26-minute extended version. The South African comedian’s reaction to police-related shootings across the country also went viral with 2.2 million views on YouTube, while most of his other most-watched clips of 2016 involved Donald Trump and the presidential campaign. Unlike the other shows, The Daily Show gets a disproportionate amount of online views from its website, accounting for 35 percent, mostly because only a small portion of a given episode is posted to YouTube.
As for Fallon, the majority of his most-viewed clips are musical in nature from much earlier in the year, including his Lip Sync Battle with Melissa McCarthy and the wheel of musical impressions with Demi Lovato, reaching 21 million and 35 million views, respectively, far beyond the numbers for any video for The Daily Show or Late Show, though those numbers are much lower than the 75 million who viewed segments with Emma Stone and Ariana Grande in 2015. The Tonight Show host also has more competition in the musical genre, with The Late Late Show with James Corden taking the top spot for the top trending YouTube clip in 2016 for his Carpool Karaoke trip with Adele, which has over 136 million views. Another late-night host who placed in the top 10 was John Oliver, whose nearly 22-minute “Make Donald Drumpf Again” takedown of Trump for Last Week Tonight came in eighth place with more than 30 million views, behind a Lip Sync Battle performance by Channing Tatum and his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum.
Oliver came in fourth place overall, slightly behind Fallon at 14 percent, an impressive feat considering the fact that his show only airs once a week. His HBO show racked up almost 1 billion views for the year, averaging an impressive 5.1 million views per video. Corden followed in fifth place with 9 percent, with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel at seven and six percent, both down from last year. On the upswing is Late Night with Seth Meyers, jumping to 4 percent from 1 percent in 2015, tied with newcomer Samantha Bee. Both hosts received a significant amount of views for their post-election reactions to Trump’s unexpected victory.
A look at recent numbers from the late-night shows indicates that despite the end of election season, The Late Show and Daily Show‘s online dominance over Fallon may continue. Noah’s segments on the president-elect routinely get over 1 million views, while Colbert has thrived thanks to an appearance by Vice President Joe Biden, a segment about the Pizzagate scandal, and various monologue jokes surrounding the latest stories involving the incoming Trump administration. There’s also some good news for The Daily Show when it comes to traditional ratings, as the show came in second for the year among viewers 18-34 behind Fallon. In total viewers, The Tonight Show still reigns supreme, averaging 3.6 million for the season, compared to 2.75 million for Colbert and 2.3 million for Kimmel.