Night Night

TiVo’s Top 20 Shows Watched Before Bed: Jimmy Fallon, ‘Lost Girl’ & More

What are people watching before they hit the hay? Jace Lacob gets the numbers—and a sexy Syfy surprise.

ABC; Comedy Central; NBC

ABC; Comedy Central; NBC

It’s no secret that many Americans turn on the television as part of a nighttime ritual before bed. But what is surprising is just what they’re watching before their heads hit their respective pillows.

According to data provided by TiVo to The Daily Beast, the top program watched at bedtime was NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, while TBS’s Conan was the most-watched cable show before bed.

“Perhaps it’s not surprising that many late-night talk shows are watched before bed,” Tara Maitra, TiVo’s general manager of content and media sales, said in a statement. “But we found it interesting that many people are also tuning into light-hearted reality shows before falling asleep.”

In fact, 22 percent of shows watched at bedtime are reality shows, with Bravo and HGTV appearing most often with 11 percent of cable programs represented (though Food Network’s Chopped crops up in the top 20), while the most-watched non-news or reality show watched at bedtime is Syfy’s Canadian import Lost Girl. Despite the fact that it went off the air in 2007, The King of Queens—now airing repeats in syndication—scored an impressive high spot at No. 23.

The top 10 recorded, rather than live, programs watched before bed included Glee, Modern Family, NCIS: Los Angeles, Smash, The Mentalist, Revenge, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and Cougar Town. (Wait, Cougar Town?!?)

A few caveats first. The data provided by TiVo came from a sample group of 47,000 opt-in households who are TiVo or DVR subscribers and were generated by the last program—both live and recorded—that they watched after 10 p.m. on weeknights (Monday through Thursday). Multiple-day viewership was factored in as well, which is why late-night talk shows like Late Night and The Tonight Show ranked so highly here, as they air throughout the week. Finally, the percentage listed is indicative of the percentage of viewers (TiVo boxes) out of all boxes that watched at least one show during the four days of ratings analysis, including both recorded and live programs. (All times are ET/PT.)

Lloyd Bishop / NBC

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC): 10.88 percent

The three-year-old talk show, which airs at 12:35 a.m., claimed the top spot, with nearly 11 percent of TiVo users in the study group tuned to Late Night any time after 10 p.m. during the four-day period that was analyzed. Host Jimmy Fallon has proven to be popular with the show’s key adult 18–49 demographic, and the show’s embrace of social media, music, and Internet culture has made Late Night a must-see destination.

Margaret Norton / NBC

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): 8.30 percent

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno landed at No. 2, airing just before Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The appeal of late-night talk shows can’t be undervalued, particularly among those watching television before bed. It’s no surprise that across the broadcast networks, their eponymous talkers scored particularly high in the study. (In fact, the only late-night network talk show that didn’t end up on the list was NBC’s Last Call With Carson Daly.)

Jeffrey R. Staab / CBS

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): 7.80 percent

Leno’s time-slot rival, which turns 20 next year, drops in at No. 3. Both shows air at 11:35 p.m. and have long been engaged in a battle for viewers, while their respective hosts are widely reported to be enmeshed in a prolonged on-again-off-again feud.

Richard Carwright / ABC

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC): 7.59 percent

Despite the name, the midnight show doesn’t actually air live the majority of the time. Like its late-night brethren, it’s usually taped earlier that evening. It landed just a hair behind CBS’s Late Show at No. 4.

Monty Brinton / CBS

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS): 6.74 percent

CBS’s lead-out to The Late Show With David Letterman airs at 12:35 a.m. and features Scottish-American comedian and host Craig Ferguson, who took over the show from Craig Kilborn in 2005. And puppets. Lots and lots of puppets.

Hazel Thomspon / ABC

Nightline (ABC): 4.57 percent

ABC’s long-running news franchise lands at No. 6. It’s the only broadcast network-news program in the top 10, but Nightline does have a devoted audience, even after the departure of longtime host Ted Koppel in 2005.

Meghan Sinclair / TBS

Conan (TBS): 3.61 percent

Less than two years old, Conan O’Brien’s TBS show—which airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m.—is the most-watched cable show on the list, coming in at No. 7. Conan, which saw the host move to cable after his 2010 Tonight Show kerfuffle, also has the distinction of being the earliest-airing late-night talk show on the list, as the broadcasters typically air local news during the 11–11:30 p.m. time slot.

Samantha A. Baron / ESPN

SportsCenter (ESPN): 3.57 percent

This is a no-brainer: it’s hardly surprising that ESPN’s daily sports news show SportsCenter—which airs multiple times throughout the day—would land in the top 10.

AP Photo

Hannity (Fox News): 2.89 percent

One of only two cable news shows to crack the top 20, Fox News’s Hannity, the nearly four-year-old successor to Hannity & Colmes—which is now solely hosted by conservative pundit Sean Hannity—lands at No. 9 with 2.89 percent of viewers tuning in before bedtime.


Lost Girl (Syfy): 2.16 percent

Here’s where things get really interesting. Rounding out the top 10 is Canadian import Lost Girl, which airs at 10 p.m. on Syfy. The supernatural drama revolves around leather-clad succubus Bo (Anna Silk), and is the first scripted series to turn up on the list. Given the somewhat salacious premise of the show—the main character is a faerie who derives sustenance by feeding on sexual energy, after all—perhaps it’s no surprise that viewers are tuning in before bed.

David Lang / Food Network

Chopped (Food Network): 2.06 percent

Food Network’s culinary competition series is the first non-news reality program to turn up on the list, at No. 11. Featuring four chefs facing off in three rounds of mystery-basket cooking—appetizer, entrée, and dessert—as they’re eliminated one by one, Chopped has become a favorite of bedtime viewers. (The channel’s similarly themed reality competition, The Next Food Network Star, meanwhile, came in at No. 23, with 1.41 percent of viewers.)

Virginia Sherwood / NBC

The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC): 2.03 percent

Airing weeknights on MSNBC at 9 p.m., The Rachel Maddow Show—hosted by liberal political pundit Rachel Maddow—landed at No. 12, behind Fox News rival Hannity, which airs in the same time slot.

Sonja Flemming / CBS

The Mentalist (CBS): 1.90 percent

At No. 13, CBS’s crime procedural The Mentalist turns up as the most-watched broadcast network drama on the list. Starring Simon Baker as an ex-psychic who uses his observational skills to solve crimes as a consultant to the California Bureau of Investigations, The Mentalist was airing Thursdays at 10 p.m., but will reach its 100th episode milestone this fall in its new Sunday-night time slot.

Sonja Flemming / CBS

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS): 1.85 percent

CBS’s NCIS spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles, which began life in 2009, lands at No. 14 on the list. Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., the crime procedural has made an unlikely star out of diminutive veteran actress (and Oscar winner) Linda Hunt, who stars as the team’s operations manager, Hettie Lange. Over the course of the show’s run so far, Hunt has won two Teen Choice Awards for Choice TV Actress: Action.

Scott Gries / Picture Group

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central): 1.81 percent

Comedy Central’s satirical news program, hosted by Stephen Colbert, grew out of the channel’s long-running franchise The Daily Show in 2005. The show, which airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m., functions both as news commentary and a parody of conservative political punditry like Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

Eric McCandless / ABC

Revenge (ABC): 1.78 percent

ABC’s deliriously soapy vengeance drama, which stars Emily VanCamp as a ruthless and mercenary woman orchestrating the takedown of the people who destroyed her family when she was a child, landed at No. 16 on the list. Airing at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, Revenge quickly became a cultural phenomenon in its freshman season, and will move to Sundays at 9 p.m. in the fall.

Patrick Randak / NBC

Smash (NBC): 1.73 percent

At No. 17, it’s NBC’s musical drama—about the cast and crew of Bombshell, a Broadway-bound musical about the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe—quickly became synonymous with “hate-watching” (i.e., ironic viewing, usually accompanied with caustic commentary) during its first season, when it aired Monday nights at 10 p.m.

Timothy White / E!

Chelsea Lately (E!): 1.69 percent

At No. 18, E!’s five-year-old late-night talk show, hosted by Chelsea Handler and sidekick Chuy Bravo, airs weeknights at 11 p.m. The show, which began in 2007, has spawned a spinoff, After Lately, which started in 2011 and has now been renewed for a third season.

Kevin Lynch / CBS

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS): 1.69 percent

The CBS crime procedural, an update of the classic 1968–80 series starring Jack Lord, slips in at No. 19. The two-year-old show—which stars Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Grace Park, and regularly pulls in nearly 12 million viewers—airs Monday at 10 p.m.

Kevin Fitzsimons / Comedy Central

The Daily Show (Comedy Central): 1.67 percent

Rounding out the top 20, is Comedy Central’s satirical news show The Daily Show. Hosted by Jon Stewart for more than 10 years now, the show began its life in 1996 with Craig Kilborn as the host, with Stewart taking the reins in 1999. The show’s incisive political and media commentary has made it extremely popular, particularly among younger viewers. A 2010 interview with President Obama brought in 3.6 million viewers; he was the first sitting U.S. president to appear on the show, which airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m.