Stephen Colbert made his long awaited return to TV last night, filling in the month-long hole that was occupied by David Letterman into May. While Colbert poked fun at the network's choice for summer television - repeats of the Mentalist - they proved to be fairly strong for the network. Still, it was a bar that was easily surpassed by the late night host last night. His first ever episode, which was peppered with wise cracks, have over 6.5 million viewers. That more than doubled Fallon's 2.92 million viewers and tripled Kimmel's 1.75 million.
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Colbert also came out on top in the key demographic of adults 18-49 with a 1.4 rating with the group, compared to Fallon's 0.9 and Kimmel's 0.4.
Reviews were also strong, with a strong 4.9 market among metered households. That is a 172% spike over the Late Show just last year. As for the exact competition breakdown, Tonight averaged a 2.4 rating — and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! earned a 1.4 rating
Interest in Colbert hasn't waned, so he is likely to rake in numbers just on his name alone. There was no drama or scandal that ushered in the show. Famously, the battle over the Tonight Show between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien made Fallon's takeover just a little more interesting. The battle between Leno and Letterman was enough to put a chill in the air when anyone talked about late night rivals, but Jimmy Fallon made a guest appearance on the debut last night, seemingly squashing any feuds.
As for the last original Late Show, finales are also hard to compete with. Early figures for Letterman's May swan song gave the host a 9.3 rating among metered market households — a stat that later translated into a two-decade high 13.76 million viewers, according to the New York Times.
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Finally, the debut was also a win for the Late Late Show with James Corden napped a 1.3 over NBC's Seth Meyers' 1.1 rating.