Stephen Colbert's tenure on "The Late Show" has officially begun. But, it wasn't just fans of "The Colbert Report" eagerly awaiting the comedian's debut: Brands have been lining up to get ads.
A source with close knowledge of the situation said that 30-second ad spots during the premiere were going for about $175,000. CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
By comparison, Adweek reported that advertising cost provider SQAD NetCosts placed rates at about $52,000 per 30 seconds for late night leader NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in the second quarter of 2015, while "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on ABC was around $24,000. Colbert was pulling in about $50,000 by the time his Comedy Central show went off the air in 2014. Neither NBC nor ABC immediately responded to requests for comment.
Part of what drove the prices up so high was excitement about the potential for a younger audience, especially compared to the crowd former "Late Show" host David Letterman drew. According to marketing firm Magna Global, Letterman's average viewer was 60 years old. The average "Colbert Report" audience viewer was 44.
"It's an opportunity to draw in some younger viewers," said Brian Hughes, Magna Global audience analysis practice lead and senior vice president. "Between Jimmy Fallon taking over 'The Tonight Show' and this, in a way it's revitalizing late night."
Hughes said Fallon's success with driving down the age of late night viewers has encouraged marketers to consider the programs with renewed interest. The NBC show has an average TV viewership age of 54, according to Magna. Kimmel remains a little older at 57. He projected Colbert to average around mid-50s.
While that still may seem a little old for millennial-chasing brands, multiple sources say CBS has reportedly promised the show will have a heavy digital presence. Letterman notoriously shied away from online integration, but Colbert has already proven himself on the medium. YouTube late night viewership skews 18 to 34, Hughes pointed out.
"Considering the way viewing is trending these days, there's interest in what kind of digital afterlife the show can take on," Hughes said. "Not everyone can be awake to watch."