September 10, 2015 08:00 ET

Colbert Retains Viewers on Both Sides of the Political Divide in "Late Show" Debut

Data From Peel Smart Remote App Shows Tune Out Highest for "Colbert Report" Fan Base

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Sep 10, 2015) - New "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert successfully crossed the political divide in his major network debut Tuesday night, but may have alienated hardcore fans of the "The Colbert Report" as he seeks a more moderate tone to capture the largest audience share, according to tune-in data from Peel, makers of the world's most popular smart remote app.

Peel examined who tuned in (and tuned out) during the first 15 minutes of Colbert's premiere on CBS' "Late Show" and found that while right-leaning and left-leaning viewers stayed tuned-in in roughly the same proportion (59.1% left vs. 58.4% right) only 57.2% of viewers of the old "Colbert Report" on Comedy Central remained loyal compared to 60.9% of viewers of "Late Show" when it was hosted by David Letterman. The bulk of tune-outs tend to occur in the first few minutes of watching a program.

The competition in the late night talk show wars is fierce relative to other times in the program schedule. A successful new major network primetime series typically has a 15-minute tune-out rate of less than 30%. Viewers who defected from Colbert on both sides of the political spectrum were most likely to switch channels to the rival "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on NBC (17% of right-leaning, and 13% of left-leaning) followed by Jimmy Kimmel Live (8%), Family Guy (6%), Modern Family (5%), and Conan (4%) on the left; and Jimmy Kimmel Live (5%), White House Down (5%), America's Got Talent (4%) and Edge of Alaska (4%) on the right.

Given that Colbert made a name for himself and had gained a loyal following among Democrats by tweaking Republicans in the guise of a narcissistic conservative pundit on his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report," Colbert and his producers went out of their way for his first night as host of "Late Show" to offer viewers a balanced slate of guests. They included Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush and actor George Clooney, who is known for supporting Democratic causes.

Overall, about two-thirds of the viewers for "Late Show" came from the left of the political spectrum, similar to the numbers during Letterman's reign and also for "The Colbert Report."

Peel Smart Remote users control their TV with their smartphones, allowing Peel to capture both tune-ins and tune-outs, along with a variety of other demographic and viewing related data points.

The methodology used by Peel to divide its audience into political camps was based on their prior viewing behavior of programs that polling has shown tend to draw right or left-leaning audiences such as "Duck Dynasty" and Fox News on the right and "Project Runway," "Portlandia," and "The Daily Show" on the left.

In addition to the ability to determine who is tuning in or tuning out and predict the success or failure of new shows, Peel uses the data from its 120 million registered app users on behalf of TV marketers and brand advertisers to precisely target promotions in real time based on what shows its users are watching.

For more complete tune-in data from Colbert's "Late Show" debut, please visit the Peel blog.

About Peel
Peel is revolutionizing the home entertainment and home control experience by integrating device control and live or streamed content discovery into one easy-to-navigate universal Peel Smart Remote app, which has 100 million registered users who have generated 100 billion-plus remote commands to date. Peel drives brand engagement and TV tune-in for major TV networks and producers through its True Tune-in™ advertising products and Peel in Platform.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Lindsey Coyle Whitehouse
    Highwire PR for Peel
    415-963-4174 ext. 15