James Corden kicked off his version of The Late Late Show on Monday with a star-studded affair that featured the likes of Jay Leno, Chelsea Handler, Chris Rock and even CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves.
The British import’s first show drew 1.66 million viewers, narrowly defeating Late Night With Seth Meyers (1.53 million), his new time slot competition. Corden’s debut was expectedly well short of Meyers’ first Late Night in February 2014, which drew 3.4 million viewers.
Corden’s first Late Late Show was up 13% over the show’s season average with Craig Ferguson still at the helm and was the most-watched Monday episode since 2011. Ferguson had debuted to 2.1 million viewers back in 2005.
CBS expects it take some time for Corden to hook in viewers.
The Englishman is largely an unknown presence in the U.S. With David Letterman in the stretch-run of his Late Show tenure — his last show will be May 20 — CBS will have another late night host to roll out when Stephen Colbert takes over in September. That means Corden will spend the summer with virtually no lead in, but will use Colbert’s Late Show premiere as a second launch.