Late Night Ratings are on the Decline, and It's No Mystery Why

Between late night show host’s Stephen Colbert and “America’s Conscience” Jimmy Kimmel, what should be a light hearted way to end the day with funny celebrity stories, and awkward zoo animal interactions has become a politically partisan hour of finger wagging and agenda promotion.


And like the declining ratings from the NFL, and Hollywood award shows before it, late night television shows are beginning to see a decline in viewership.

From Philip Wegmann at the Washington Examiner comments about Federalist Founder Ben Domenech’s discoveries on late night ratings:

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.

Wegmann rightfully points out that this serious decline in viewership may be attributed to younger audiences tuning out on the TV, and choosing instead to view the pertinent clips of the show on Facebook or YouTube. However, the numbers are even more troubling when you look at ratings for shows where the purpose isn’t entertainment, but is actually there for political commentary.

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.)

While different factors may play a part in audience viewership, such as time or technology, one reoccurring pattern continues to be seen. The more something meant for entertainment becomes political, the more people tune out.


As mentioned earlier, the NFL continues to see ratings decline in the double digits as its players, coaches, and owners took part in politically charged displays, oftentimes as a disrespectful protest against our nation. Even DirecTV is issuing refunds for fans upset over their sports games becoming political commentary.

Award shows continue to lose viewers by the millions as the coastal elite in all their glitz and glam insult the beliefs of those in flyover country. People tune out as the glitterati crack jokes — hardly good — about Republicans during acceptance speeches for awards for their performances — hardly deserved.

Politics does not belong in escapism. If we watch something to take our minds off the world, then we’ll take our minds still elsewhere if that thing tries to return us back to the world. This goes double when the message alienates half of the viewers who tune into watch.

If Hollywood wants to see its numbers back on the rise, it can stop politicizing everything, stop sexually assaulting women and children, and get back to doing it’s job…

Entertaining us.


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