Who watches late-night comedy?

Bryn HealyU.S. News social media intern
June 11, 2024, 8:35 PM GMT+0

Late-night comedy has been a staple of the television industry since the Faye Emerson Show and the Tonight Show starring Steve Allen in the early 1950s. Today, there are many late-night comedy shows, including Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and Gutfeld!

26% of Americans say they watch late-night comedy, including 9% who watch very often and 17% who watch somewhat often, according to a YouGov poll conducted in May. There is a partisan divide in viewership of the genre: 38% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans watch late night. Additionally, slightly more men (30%) watch late-night comedy than women (23%) and more Black Americans (37%) watch it than white (24%) and Hispanic (27%) Americans. More younger than older adults watch it. While 37% of adults under 30 watch late-night comedy, only 15% of those 65 and older do.

Even with the decline of viewership in cable and broadcast TV, millions of people tune in every night to watch late-night comedy shows. For example, in 2023, 1.88 million Americans tuned into the Late Show with Stephen Colbert every night. Half of Republicans, however, say that these shows focus too much on politics. In contrast, only 14% of Democrats do. In addition, 57% of Republicans say that these shows are generally too liberal. Again, many Democrats disagree, with only 10% saying that late-night comedy is too liberal a medium. However, Democrats and Republicans generally agree that the genre isn’t too conservative. Only 6% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans say late-night is too conservative.

— Taylor Orth contributed to this article


See the results for this poll:

Methodology: This Daily Questions survey was conducted online on May 23 - 24, 2024 among 15,707 U.S. adults. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party. The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 2%.

Image: Getty (Frazer Harrison / Staff)