Fox News Wants to Remind You That Gutfeld! Is Late Night’s True Ratings Leader

One of the more common questions we’ve received over the last ten days since we launched LateNighter is why don’t we include Nielsen ratings for the Fox News show Gutfield! in our late-night ratings reports.

The answer is that Nielsen considers 11pm the start of the late night daypart, while Gutfeld! airs at 10pm in the east (and at 7 and 8pm in the pacific and central time zones). It’s the same reason we don’t include Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live, which follows an erratic schedule that also often falls in prime time.

That said, considering that Gutfeld is loosely patterned off the other late night shows—and that it, in fact, aired in late night up until last spring—you can’t blame Fox News for pointing out that show routinely averages a larger total live-plus-same-day audience than the late night shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, and Comedy Central.

Indeed for the month of February, Gutfeld! averaged 2.2 million total live-plus-same-day viewers, more than each of his late-night counterparts.

But as with all things TV ratings these days, those numbers only tell one part of the story. If instead one looks at Nielsen live-plus-three, a data stream commonly used for broadcast and cable entertainment programming that includes delayed viewing, CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert outperformed Gutfeld! over the same time period (2.7 million vs. 2.5 million).

By that measure, Gutfeld still handily beat the late-night shows on NBC, ABC, and Comedy Central, although they in turn would be quick to point to their shows’ digital views as a measure of their dominance.

All of which is to say: it’s complicated.

But Fox News isn’t wrong to crow about Gutfeld!, whose host Greg Gutfeld has crafted a show that’s drawing viewers (especially younger ones) in droves. The show holds the distinction of being February’s most-watched program among younger viewers in all of cable news, drawing an average of 203,000 live-plus-same-day viewers in the coveted 18-49 entertainment demo.

Responding to the deluge of press that accompanied Jon Stewart’s highly rated return to the Daily Show, Fox News issued a press release touting that Gutfeld! had “crushed” Stewart, eclipsing his linear total viewer numbers by double- and triple-digit percentages.

These are impressive numbers, and they seem to speak to a growing political divide that’s taken root in a daypart where hosts like Johnny Carson and Jay Leno were once widely perceived as nonpartisan in their humor.

Of course, whether or not today’s late-night hosts are “in the tank” for the Democratic Party seems to be in the eye of the beholder. While none would be confused as friendly to Donald Trump (at least not since 2016), most have been equally merciless when it comes to Joe Biden’s age, much to the chagrin of some on the left. 

The same can’t be said of Gutfeld when it comes to Trump, but credit where it’s due–it seems to be working for him.

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