Devout as Ferguson’s fans may be, his CBS show, which follows Letterman’s “Late Show,” is sitting in third place out of three.
The top dog at 12:35 is NBC’s “Late Night,” which was passed from Jimmy Fallon to Seth Meyers this season. It averages a 0.65 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, and has averaged 1.93 million viewers in its first season.
ABC’s “Nightline,” which flipped timeslots with “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in January 2013, has a 0.42 rating and averages 1.68 million viewers this season. “Nightline” is just a half-hour show, which gives it a distinct advantage over the hour-long talkers that must retain their audiences as the midnight oil burns.
Ferguson’s “Late, Late Show” has averaged a 0.38 rating and 1.44 million viewers.
NBC’s “Late Night” has gotten a boost from viewers curious about Fallon’s final episodes and Meyers’ first ones. Since Meyers took over on Feb. 17, “Late Night” has averaged a 0.59/4 in the key demo and 1.65 million total viewers.
“Nightline” pulled in a 0.40/2 and 1.59 million viewers in that same time frame, while Ferguson has received a 0.33/2 and 1.32 million viewers.
Also in that period, Carson Daly’s “Last Call” at 1:35 a.m. has fallen just shy of Ferguson in the demo with a 0.32/3. Daly averages 880,000 total viewers.
Historically, Ferguson has never beaten “Late Night” in the demo, though the Scottish-born comedian’s show topped Fallon in total viewers during the tumultuous 2009-2010 season, when Conan O'Brien briefly ascended to “The Tonight Show.”
The competition between CBS’ “Late, Late Show” and ABC has been stiffer, but all comparisons are tricky due to ABC’s floating timeslots over the last few seasons.
In 2008-2009, Ferguson topped Kimmel in total viewers at 12:35 a.m. That season and the next, the two tied in demo ratings.
CBS is hoping that Colbert performs a turnaround of his own, as “The Tonight Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” have been steadily beating “The Late Show.” Fallon’s “Tonight Show” has been regularly besting Kimmel and Letterman combined.