Matt Buckler: Stephen Colbert remains leader of late night

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Jun. 10—During the Donald Trump administration, you could always count one thing — the president would be under nightly attack form CBS late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert.

During Colbert's opening monologue, Trump was Colbert's favorite target. On many nights, he was his only target.

Those attacks brought in viewers. In a late-night landscape that was dominated by "The Tonight Show" for years, Colbert started to gain viewers.

He was No. 1 in late night in total viewers for four straight years.

With Trump out of the White House, however, Colbert was deprived of his No. 1 sparring partner, How would his ratings hold up?

The attacks on Trump may have slowed down a tad, but they haven't stopped. He still gets his shots in.

Colbert's reign as the No. 1 late-night host hasn't stopped either.

In information reported by Deadline TV, Colbert was the No. 1 late-night show for the 2020-21 TV season, his fifth consecutive victory.

That's something no CBS late-night host has ever done before — Merv Griffin couldn't do it. Pat Sajak couldn't do it. Even David Letterman couldn't do it.

Colbert, however, pulled it off. His show averaged 2.95 million viewers per night, while ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" averaged 1.75 million viewers and NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" brought in 1.54 million per show.

Colbert's "Late Show" also was No. 1 in the vital 18-49 demographic, even though those figures are much closer.

The bottom line is that all three late-night shows have something to offer and have developed loyal audiences.

When Colbert was hired to replace Letterman, however, many critics felt he was the wrong host. His humor wasn't broad enough to attract a large audience.

Apparently it's large enough. And larger than the competition.

And even though Trump is out of office, he still makes enough news for Colbert to cash in on it.

The 12:35 a.m. race between CBS' James Corden and NBC's Seth Meyers is also a tight one.

Meyers has a slight advantage, averaging 1.01 million viewers per show while Corden averages 971,000.

Corden, however, has been without his No. 1 attraction — carpool karaoke. When that segment hits the road again, a tight race may get tighter.

NBC unloads 'Zoey'

There's one major question floating around the TV world today — will Zoey find a home?

After deliberating for almost three weeks, NBC decided to shove "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" on the exit ramp.

Despite being a favorite of many TV critics, NBC was not impressed with the ratings to order Season 3.

And NBC's streaming service, Peacock, also wanted no part of a third season.

Unlike CBS' "SEAL Team," which avoided cancellation by being moved to Paramount Plus, NBC didn't elect to do the same thing to save "Playlist."

The producers of the show, Lionsgate Television and Universal Television, think there is still an audience for "Playlist" and will be shopping the show around to another network.

Considering all the streaming, cable, and broadcast networks that exist today, one would think that someone would want a high-quality show.

—The producers of "Prodigal Son," another show with a loyal audience, have been trying to find a new network after getting canceled by Fox, but has come up empty. "Prodigal Son" enjoyed slightly higher ratings than "Playlist," but it's stuck in limbo.

—"Lucifer" is one show that had a second life, landing on Netflix after being tossed out by Fox. Apparently no one wants to mess with the devil, even when it's a canceled show.

Follow Matt Buckler for more television, radio, and sports coverage on the JI's Twitter @journalinquirer, and see his articles on the Journal Inquirer Facebook page.