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November 26, 2014

Craig Ferguson Tops Jimmy Fallon in Ratings (Bring On the Free Candy!)

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 13th 2009 12:00PM
The Late Late Show With Craig FergusonIt looks like Conan O'Brien vs. David Letterman isn't the only late night war brewing.

For the first time since Craig Ferguson took over in 2005, 'The Late Late Show' has bested 'Late Night' in both total viewers (1.9 million to 1.3 million) and the advertiser coveted 18-49 demo (0.6/3 to 0.5/3), according to the Hollywood Reporter. The two have been neck-and-neck in the demo for the past seven weeks.

Ferguson's win takes on even more significance when you consider that it's coming almost nine months after Jimmy Fallon took over 'Late Night' from Conan O'Brien back on March 2, 2009. As the networks have been saying over and over again during the race between Letterman and O'Brien, late night isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. And after nine months, it looks like Ferguson is starting to pull ahead.

So, what sets Fallon and Ferguson apart? Let's break it down.The Late Late Show With Craig FergusonIt looks like Conan O'Brien vs. David Letterman isn't the only late night war brewing.

For the first time since Craig Ferguson took over in 2005, 'The Late Late Show' has bested 'Late Night' in both total viewers (1.9 million to 1.3 million) and the advertiser coveted 18-49 demo (0.6/3 to 0.5/3), according to the Hollywood Reporter. The two have been neck-and-neck in the demo for the past seven weeks.

Ferguson's win takes on even more significance when you consider that it's coming almost nine months after Jimmy Fallon took over 'Late Night' from Conan O'Brien back on March 2, 2009. As the networks have been saying over and over again during the race between Letterman and O'Brien, late night isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. And after nine months, it looks like Ferguson is starting to pull ahead.

So, what sets Fallon and Ferguson apart? Let's break it down.

The two hosts bring very different styles and techniques to their respective shows. Fallon is young and hip. He talks often about new technologies, and is a very avid user of the web and social networking sites. But for all of that, his show itself follows a pretty traditional talk-show format, with a joke-punchline-joke-punchline monologue, short videos and audience participation games, followed by your typical talk-show interviews. To his credit, Fallon is improving in this area.

On the opposite end, Ferguson, who is almost out of the 18-49 demo himself, seems to barely understand what a computer is, much less an iPhone (or "the Tweety Bird," as he calls Twitter). His monologues work more like stand-up routines, generally focusing on one topic per night. He spends most of the time making fun of his show's low budget. So, rather than getting fancy videos and games, you get puppets and Ferguson dressed up in terrible costumes doing low-rent comedy skits.

So while Fallon himself seems a better representative of what youth might be looking for, the whole structure of Ferguson's show is so against the grain and different in the late-night landscape that he's drawing in that rebellious side of youth. Ferguson rails against CBS, his studio lighting, his lack of a budget (the show just went hi-def a few months ago, long after his competitors) and his own perceived inadequacies as a host. Nothing is quite good enough, and yet that seems to be sitting just fine with his growing audience.

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