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Stephen Colbert 'Late Show' debut ratings top rivals, Letterman

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Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

UPDATED: The numbers are in: Stephen Colbert got off to a very strong start as the new host of CBS’ The Late Show.

According to Nielsen, Colbert’s debut episode Tuesday evening a whopping 6.6 million viewers. That easily topped NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2.9 million) and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (1.7 million). 

The Late Show was up 203 percent in viewers compared to the same night last year when the show was hosted by David Letterman. Compared to last year’s Late Show premiere (which fell on Sept. 22), Tuesday’s telecast was up 131 percent. 

The performance marks the largest Late Show Tueday audience among adults 18-49—excluding Letterman’s final week—since July, 1995.  

Of course, the first episode of a new talk show host taking over an existing franchise should spike. The real test is in the days and weeks to come. 

CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden also received a boost, jumping to 1.9 million to rank third for the evening. 

For more, here’s EW review of the premiere (we gave Stephen a B+) and our recap. Colbert took on Donald Trump, and paid tribute to Letterman’s legacy hosting the show. Check out Colbert’s first Late Show monologue

The ranking:

Stephen Colbert (P)…6.549 million

Jimmy Fallon…2.920 million

James Corden…1.850 million

Jimmy Kimmel…1.745 million

Seth Meyers…1.302 million

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