It should come as no surprise to Fox News viewers that many television networks’ decisions to go “woke” in their late-night comedy programming has led to shrinking audience numbers.
Smarmy and preachy hosts like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers have worn their politics on their sleeve so much that the comedy is no longer recognizable.
Similar trends have hit everything from the long-running Saturday Night Live, to the Academy Awards, to the NBA and recent summer Olympics—all of which have seen significant drops that appear directly related to their insufferable virtue-signaling.
Nonetheless, it seemed a bold play by Fox News to enter into the late-night market last spring with the quirky and idiosyncratic Gutfeld!, given the show’s departure from the tone and format of most other programming on the right-leaning news network.
The gamble now appears to have paid off.
On Tuesday, the Gutfeld! show, anchored by longtime The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld and a rotating repertory of offbeat personalities, surpassed all of its competitors in the late-night ratings battle, The Wrap reported.
The 11 p.m. show averaged 2.120 million viewers, compared with 1.896 million for Colbert’s Late Show on CBS, and 1.216 million for Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC.
Gutfeld slammed the rival networks for opting to insult and alienate half their potential audience in order to come across as hip and edgy.
“I always get the feeling that their targets of ridicule are groups of people that kind of represent most of America,” he told The Wrap prior to the show’s April 5 debut. “So it’s kinda like instead of Trump, it’s making fun of Trump voters, etc.”
Leftists often have dismissed Fox’s ratings dominance by pointing to their success in the key 25 to 54 age demographic. However, Gutfeld trounced his competition there, as well, on Tuesday, averaging 434,000 viewers in the key demo to Colbert’s 423,000 and Fallon’s 354,000.
In an overlapping 18-49 demo, Colbert still edged out Gutfeld 322,000 viewers to 281,000. Due to tighter budgets, college-age viewers, who account for much of the difference, may be relegated to basic-cable broadcast affiliates that do not include Fox News.
Nonetheless, Gutfeld! reflects Fox News’s commitment to growing its base of younger viewers.
The network has actively promoted the show to broader audiences—including ads with slogans like “Cancel Culture Just Got Cancelled,” which appeared on a Hollywood Boulevard billboard near where Kimmel films his ABC show.
The nightly Gutfeld! show came as part of a post-Trump shakeup to the network’s lineup, as it grappled with its new role under a Democrat-dominated regime.
The network’s ratings had begun to founder after loyal viewers flirted with right-wing alternatives, including Newsmax and the One America Network, due to Fox’s ongoing refusal to acknowledge vote fraud in the 2020 election and other major lapses in its editorial judgment.
As part of the efforts to soften its image, Fox turned to Gutfeld, who had long been building up a following with a similarly styled round-table, comedy-based format on his late-night weekend shows, Red Eye and the Greg Gutfeld Show.
“People need a reason to laugh,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scot told The Wrap in March.
“Greg’s unique and irreverent talk show has been an incredible success, often beating the late-night broadcast competition, despite its Saturday time slot,” Scot said. “With one of the most loyal and engaged audiences in cable news, we’re thrilled to bring the show to weekday primetime and further solidify Greg’s place among late-night television stars.”
But for Gutfeld, the goal was not to cast off the network’s conservative cred so much as to bring right-wing values into the mainstream arena by appealing to millennials’ sardonic sensibilities.
In effect, he sought to use the same sort of ridicule long weaponized by radical Alinskyites to push back against the absurdities of the leftist narrative.
Despite his competitors’ efforts to appeal to younger audiences, leftist comedians’ politically-correct tropes have become so stale and overused that the pendulum of iconoclastic counter-culture is swinging in the opposite direction, Gutfeld said.
“The other shows all do the same thing—you can pretty much can get what their point of view is on everything,” Gutfeld said.