Five million households tuned in to watch Stephen Colbert’s debut as host of the Late Show on Tuesday night, according to preliminary overnight ratings. That means about 13 percent of all turned-on TVs watched Colbert on CBS. David Letterman’s final Late Show, in contrast, was watched by 13.7 million households.
Stephen Colbert made his Late Show debut Tuesday night, reintroducing himself to America as the man who will pick up where David Letterman left off. After a brief taped musical rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — ending with umpire Jon Stewart’s “Play ball!” — Colbert launched into his first monologue.
“You are all witnessing television history,” the host said before announcing that he has embarked on the search for “the real Stephen Colbert — I just hope I don’t find him on Ashley Madison.” Just in case things didn’t go well, CBS CEO Les Moonves was in the front row with his hand on a switch that could flip the network to The Mentalist at any moment.
On the night’s big political guest, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Colbert joked, “You would think that that much exposure to oranges and crazy people would have prepared him for Donald Trump.”