New Leader Emerges From Crowded Late Night Field


The look of late-night television has changed dramatically over the last few years. Gone are singular stalwarts such as Letterman, Leno, and of course, the “King of Late-Night,” Johnny Carson. Many new faces, new shows and new formats now own the late night screen. In this turbulent and equally crowded environment, we used E-Score Programs – Late Night to compare the players and find out who stands out to this generation of viewers.

What’s Fueling Late-Night

As the late night environment has spread across the programming dial to cable, premium cable, and even the internet, it has become difficult to decipher which shows and hosts are filling the voids left by these greats.

Ratings don’t exist for all shows, and often don’t give a full picture. Using E-Score Programs – Late Night we were able to compare shows on equal footing, and decipher which late-night programs are preferred by viewers and why. Among these success factors, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver consistently rose to the top, establishing him as a leader in the race for the late night throne.


There’s a reason all the late night programs include the name of the host in their titles: personalities drive viewership, and E-Score Programs’ Host Ratings tell a compelling story. The entire top 10 list for late-night shows score above 74% for positive sentiments toward the hosts. In fact, for nine of the ten shows more than 50% of viewers rate the host as Excellent, with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver receiving the highest rating at 75%.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, is also the winner when it comes to fan affinity. The show ranks highest among late-night shows for several key attributes including Overall Program Rating, One of My Favorites, High-Quality and more. Additionally, the show ranks highest for program elements: Program Host, Topics, Information, and Humor (all rated Excellent.) When asked about the show, one viewer responded, “It’s the best show on TV right now. It’s unbelievably funny, while also being informative.” Viewer sentiments, as well as rankings for program related elements, have pushed the show and John Oliver to the forefront of late-night programming.

One additional factor that is fueling the success of late-night shows is their ability to elicit special viewing habits. Overall, late-night cable shows score higher than similar late-night broadcast shows for Make a Special Effort to Watch. With the increase in late-night television offerings, it is critical that programs differentiate themselves.

Host Qualities Viewers Like Most

As hosts continue to drive the success of late-night shows, we took a deeper dive into E-Score Programs – Late Night’s proprietary Host Attributes to find the “host with the most” appeal to viewers.


John Oliver’s show ranks highest for Overall Program Rating, Special Effort to Watch, and Program Host: Excellent. He is the leader among late-night hosts in several host attributes including Host: Funny (co-leader) and Intelligent.

Late-night viewers enjoy a laugh or a chuckle before turning in for the night. Of the hosts to make our top ten list, all but one are considered Funny by more than 75% of viewers. Aside from being funny, the next most important trait for a late-night host is intelligence. 80% of the top 10 hosts are considered Intelligent by more than 50% of their audiences. Hosts that are able to achieve these metrics are more likely to see success long term.

James Corden: Carpooling to Stardom

John Oliver is a fan favorite among current late-night hosts, but he is not the only host charting a meteoric rise. Although he debuted in the US only last year. James Corden is blazing a trail to superstardom.

He has been in everything from movies to music videos over the past year. His rap battles are getting their own spinoff show, and Carpool Karaoke is an internet and social media sensation. It’s no wonder he is a host on the rise.

Viewers of The Late Late Show with James Corden say, “He is so funny and has great energy in his show. I like that he does not act like a stuffy show host. He acts like he is at home having guests over to talk.” Comments like this coupled with the fact his Appeal and Awareness have increased 10 and 20 points respectively since 2014, show that Corden is primed for superstardom.


Driven by superior host ratings, program attributes and motivated fans, John Oliver looks to assume the throne of late-night television. In an environment where ratings only tell half the story for half the shows. It’s important to have a full understanding of what’s driving viewership.

E-Score Programs – Late Night gives you that comprehensive knowledge of what’s fueling affinity towards shows that ratings can and cannot reach. It can be used to supplement the information gained from ratings, or fill the void where ratings don’t go. It is also useful for comparing programs across both segments to measure everything on one standard. Find out how to go beyond the ratings here.


Feel free to utilize these infographics in your social shares or other uses. To download, simply click the images and right-click, or pull the full sized images.

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