Culture

Comedy Central Ratings Plummeting Since Stewart, Colbert Departures

(Photo by /Invision for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/AP Images)

Via The Wrap:

Good luck turning this ship around, Kent Alterman.

Taking over for Michele Ganeless on Monday, Alterman, the new Comedy Central president, has inherited some pretty rough late-night ratings. Unfortunately for the man who is arguably Hollywood’s funniest incoming network chief, the Nielsen numbers are no laughing matter.

The flagship series “The Daily Show” is down a massive 38 percent in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic season over season — and that’s with the expected early sampling for new host Trevor Noah.

In total viewers, the show has lost 35 percent of what Stewart used to get (1.2 million versus 1.9 million). Yes, yes, millennials consume content differently, but … ouch.

That’s the “least bad” news. Larry Wilmore is failing even more miserably in the key demo:

For the 11:30 p.m. time slot, the quick-glance results are even worse.

“The Nightly Show” has dropped 40 percent among adults 18-49. The comparison is somewhat skewed as Larry Wilmore didn’t debut until Winter 2015, giving him fewer episodes and a smaller sample size last season — our mathematical starting point. “The Colbert Report” concluded Dec. 18, 2014. Wilmore’s show debuted Jan. 19, 2015.

Let’s begin by acknowledging that both were/are in tough positions. Stewart may not have been the original host of The Daily Show but he made it his own, practically creating the genre. He was also there a very, very long time. Trevor Noah was going to have a rough time initially no matter what.

Colbert got to make something up on his own and what Larry Wilmore is doing is a very different show because he couldn’t do another parody character. His show may end up getting its legs under it if the audience is given a long enough adjustment period.

It’s much easier to see where things are going wrong with The Daily Show as it’s a better comparison.

For all of his knee-jerk leftism, Stewart wasn’t afraid to excoriate the occasional liberal. He did it just frequently enough to keep people who aren’t liberal interested. There doesn’t seem to be as much of that from Noah. He seems like Letterman did after he mentally checked out of his show: lazily phoning in a bunch of hackneyed jokes about the people on the other side. What makes it worse is that Noah is young and new to the full-time hosting job and he seems bored with it.

If you’re going to do political humor every weeknight a little—dare I say it?—diversity in your subject matter helps. After the six thousandth Trump joke of the month, even the dumbest lefties are tired of laughing.

And watching, apparently.

Throughout my years in stand-up, I’ve never been offended by the leftist political bent of most comics because I’m conservative. Rather, I’ve been bored with them because I’m a comedian and most liberal political humor is lazy because it doesn’t have to be ambitious to get some play.

Hillary Clinton is a comedy gold mine if you don’t treat her like a sacred cow. She’s a shrieking grandma who wears bright yellow Mao jackets and has a body count.

There’s a lot of stuff there if someone would just go looking.