The Ratings Don’t Lie: Gutfeld Is The New King Of Late Night

If you watched the Super Bowl, you may have noticed that FOX News took out two ad spots for Gutfeld!, their late night comedy/political talk show. The ad sees Greg Gutfeld sitting on a King’s throne and markets him as the new king of late night. 

Of course, not everything you see in a commercial is meant to be taken literally. However, ratings pages on USTVBD demonstrate Gutfeld! pretty consistently gets more viewers than Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, two of the three big broadcast network late night shows. It is often neck-and-neck in the total viewer count with CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This is all despite FOX News, as a cable channel, not having the same household reach as ABC, NBC, and CBS do as broadcast networks. As late night television has increasingly catered to a more liberal audience, Gutfeld! has found success catering to a more conservative and libertarian audience. Ironically, it is arguably FOX News’ least politically-oriented show, competing against a broadcast late night far more politically-oriented than any prime time program. 

When it comes to competition on other cable news stations, Gutfeld! dominates. Its total audience eclipses CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined in the same hour. It often has 5 times or more than total viewers as Comedy Central's The Daily Show. In fact, CNN may even be looking at FOX News’ success with Gutfeld! in trying to rebuild their own lineup. They just recently started airing clips of the Real Time with Bill Maher after show on Fridays at 11:30, a fellow so-called ‘anti-cancel culture’ comedian despite being on the other side of the aisle. It is a panel talk show, the same formal used by Gutfeld! and the 5 pm show Greg Gutfeld co-hosts, The Five. Also, a report from Variety said CNN is considering a host outside of the political realm for its 9 pm hour.

As dominant as Gutfeld! is in total viewers and FOX News’ target Adults 25-54 demo, there is one metric in which Gutfeld! looks weaker: Adults 18-49. Sure, it’s a bit unfair to Gutfeld! to penalize it for not doing as well in a demographic that doesn’t matter to FOX News nearly as much as it does to ABC, CBS, or NBC. Still, advertisers who are looking to reach that demo are more likely to buy ad space on The Tonight Show, The Late Show, or Jimmy Kimmel Live! than they are Gutfeld! On the other hand, advertisers looking to reach a slightly older and more conservative audience will gravitate toward Gutfeld! 

It is also important to note that Gutfeld! has the advantage of starting and ending half an hour earlier than the late night shows airing on broadcast, which do not air directly after prime time programming due to local news coverage. Still, with FOX News at Night often well above a million viewers in the 12 am to 1 am time slot, one can presume Gutfeld! would remain competitive with broadcast and still crush its cable competition even if it started and ended half an hour later. 

The fact FOX News even has a late night show competitive with those on broadcast speaks volumes about the market for a late-night show catered to those on the right side of the political spectrum. While the broadcast shows typically make fun of certain Republicans and Republican policies with low approval ratings whenever they touch on politics, Gutfeld! does the same with Democrats and Democrat policies. Right now, Gutfeld! basically has a monopoly on the right. With its ratings success, whether carbon copies appear or not depends on the perception of advertisers’ demand. 

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