Larry Wilmore’s ‘The Nightly Show’ Is Down Almost 40% From Colbert In The Ratings

April 23, 2015  |  

Everyone knew that Stephen Colbert’s would be big shoes to fill. With a loyal fan base and a clever, biting humor unlike anything we’ve ever seen in late-night television, it’s to be expected that anyone taking up the 11:30 time slot would have an uphill battle to climb.

That has proven to be true for Larry Wilmore, whose new program The Nightly Show premiered on January 19. Nielsen numbers show that Nightly is capturing 417,000 viewers from the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. That’s compared to 683,000 for Colbert, a 39 percent decline.

And for the 25-to-54 age group, there’s been a similar decline of 37 percent, from 577,000. For the three-month period, the decline is 38 percent from 1.24 million.

The decline appears to have been a progressive slide. On March 30, The Wall Street Journal was reporting that Nightly was getting 75 percent of Colbert’s audience.

“In the key 18-49 year-old demographic, which advertisers pay a premium to reach, Mr. Wilmore has averaged 443,000 viewers versus Mr. Colbert’s 644,000,” the WSJ wrote.

Both Colbert and Wilmore came from The Daily Show; Wilmore was the senior Black correspondent. Having watched the show, there are some similarities between all of them: they each tackled the news of the day and, in some way, how it’s being covered in the news. Unlike the other programs, however, Wilmore spends half the show on a roundtable discussion with a number of guests on a selected topic. (Colbert and Jon Stewart usually sit with one guest to talk about a book or project they’re working on.)

We’ve been tuning in on and off since the debut and it looks like the number of roundtable participants has been reduced from four to three, a good move. There were simply too many people to get a word in during the 15 minutes allotted.

But the program also doesn’t seem to be generating the same number of laughs that the other two shows do. A little more time spent with Wilmore and (sorry to say it) a better crop of comedians and writers might help. Jessica Williams, Samantha Bee, Aasif Mandvi… that’s a tough act to follow. Wilmore himself is sharp, but the discussions don’t amount to anything substantive or particularly telling in the same way that those other two programs do. Or the way Last Week Tonight has been doing over on HBO. That program is hosted by John Oliver who doesn’t even use very many props, but his takedowns and explanations of some pretty esoteric topics — from the evils of payday loans to the half-truths told by the group behind the Miss America content — have gone viral.

Are you tuning in to The Nightly Report? Thoughts?

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