Real Time with Bill Maher and The Daily Show ratings grow in Trump era

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Correspondent Ronny Chieng (L) and host Trevor Noah on 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' LIVE one-hour “Democalypse 2016” Election Night special on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Correspondent Ronny Chieng (L) and host Trevor Noah on 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' LIVE one-hour “Democalypse 2016” Election Night special on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Comedy Central) /

Bill Maher’s HBO show “Real Time” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” are just two of the shows whose ratings have risen since Trump’s inauguration.

Bill Maher and Trevor Noah are just two of the late-night and cable news hosts that have benefited from a Donald Trump presidency, with the latter coming off of his best month in the ratings since taking over as host of The Daily Show, while the former is on pace to having his highest-rated season since he migrated to HBO from ABC in 2003.

Maher has always been a consistent ratings performer for HBO, but this year his numbers are even better than normal, with Real Time climbing around 40 percent compared to last season, according to Vulture, averaging between 1.8 and 1.9 million viewers on the night it airs, with additional telecasts and streaming views totaling about 5.5 million viewers each week. The bump is not just thanks to Trump, but also due to his booking of disgraced alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos, who was forced to resign from Breitbart and lost his book deal after controversial remarks he made about pedophilia resurfaced shortly after his Real Time appearance in February, which drew a season-high 2.1 million viewers, prompting the comic to take credit for his demise.

Meanwhile, The Daily Show had its most-watched month ever under Noah’s tenure in February, drawing an average of 1.5 million viewers a night when DVR viewings are factored in, up 17 percent from a year ago, and 11 percent in the 18-49 demo with a 0.74 rating. Comedy Central boasts that TDS is outpacing its rivals with the under 35 crowd, as the show did during most of Stewart’s run, and its audience remains the most upscale and highly educated of any show in the genre. The ratings growth seems to be specifically tied to Trump, as the show has consistently gained momentum in the past three months since he was elected president. The Daily Show is also picking up steam on social media, adding more followers on Instagram and Twitter in January than any other month.

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While the ratings resurgence of SNL and Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show has been well-documented, Noah’s sudden success is noteworthy because he struggled to maintain the audience he inherited from Stewart for his first year as host of the Comedy Central series, leading to speculation that the cable network may further shake up their late-night lineup following the quick cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore last year. Instead, they stood by the South African comedian, citing his international appeal and the show’s continued success with their target demographic of young men as evidence that he was the right pick to succeed Stewart, and now their patience finally seems to be paying off.

“There’s definitely a sense of we’re-in-this-together-ness,” Noah recently told the New York Times about his post-election success. “People are finding a space here in saying, ‘Oh, I’m not crazy — somebody else is also outraged by this.'”

But as the Times notes, the rising ratings aren’t limited to the liberal end of the political spectrum. Fox News was up 31 percent last month, with Tucker Carlson being the biggest beneficiary, as his new show grew 45 percent compared to Megyn Kelly in the same time slot last February, though MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is starting to catch up to him as another media personality whose ratings are on the upswing. The liberal pundit is fresh off her much-hyped Trump tax returns reveal, which was her highest-rated episode ever, though the drawn out method in which she unveiled what turned out to be an inconsequential document drew criticism and mockery in many corners, including by late-night hosts like Stephen Colbert.

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The Trump effect can be even seen abroad. According to the Hollywood Reporter, late-night shows that regularly take on Trump are seeing an increase in viewers in English-speaking markets like Canada and the UK. Both Real Time and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are breaking records north of the border on HBO Canada, with Maher’s show growing by 73 percent to an average of 404,000 viewers, it’s most-watched season to date. Oliver is also having a record-setting season across the pond on Sky Atlantic, while Samantha Bee is seeing the biggest increase in late-night in the U.S. and in her native Canada, with Full Frontal jumping just over 90 percent compared to its 2016 numbers in both countries. Additionally, SNL is having its highest-rated season in over a decade both in Canada and stateside, while The Daily Show is currently Canada’s most-watched late-night show, jumping 15 percent this year on CTV.