Stephen Colbert Tops John Oliver on List of Most In-Demand Talk Shows | Charts

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CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” edged out HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” as the most in-demand talk show in March — according to Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other consumer engagement.

Joining those two in the top tier of talk shows with over 20 times that of the average series is NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in third place.

Apple TV+’s “The Problem With Jon Stewart” is the only streaming original talk show to make the top 10 this month with 16.23 times the average series demand, hinting at how the streaming world as a whole has not yet cracked the code to make talk shows a success. Stewart made his name hosting Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” now helmed by Trevor Noah, which had higher demand than Stewart’s new Apple TV+ show.

10 most in-demand talk shows, U.S., March 2022 (Parrot Analytics)
10 most in-demand talk shows, U.S., March 2022 (Parrot Analytics)

Talk shows occupy a unique position in the content landscape, combining elements of comedy, news, celebrity guests and musical acts — seemingly something for everyone. However, this genre has struggled to find its footing in the new streaming era. Long gone are the days of Jay Leno and David Letterman serving up their take on current events to millions of Americans each night. Today’s world looks much more fragmented with a number of talk shows competing for audience attention by carving out their own niche as viewers get their cultural commentary from a growing number of sources.

Some potentially good news for the streaming future of talk shows is the high demand for “Conan” despite the show having wrapped up last June. HBO Max has a planned show featuring Conan O’Brien, although the few details that have been released suggest it may be a unique reimagining of the talk show format. O’Brien himself has the fourth-highest talent demand of all the above talk show hosts.

A major component of demand for talk shows is the hosts themselves. The way these shows are titled and marketed puts particular emphasis on the talent hosting the show. Looking at the demand for talk show hosts, we can get a sense of the relative size of their fandoms and how much their star power is helping drive demand for their show.

Talent demand for select late-night talk show hosts, March 2022, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)
Talent demand for select late-night talk show hosts, March 2022, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)

For example, Colbert is currently the king of late-night talk shows. He was the most in-demand talk show host we examined, with 31.11 times the demand for the average talent. His eponymous show was also the most in-demand talk show for the month.

It’s more interesting to consider the shows where there’s a substantial difference between demand for the show and the talent demand for its host. “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” came close to being the most in-demand talk show for the month despite John Oliver having a modest 8.5 times the average talent demand, which is below the demand for a majority of these hosts. This suggests that demand for “Last Week Tonight” is driven more by the show itself than its host. Conversely, Ellen DeGeneres ranked as the fifth-most in-demand talk show host, but her show ranked as the ninth-most in-demand talk show, seemingly a case of high star power not effectively translating to high demand for their content.

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