Tag Archives: The Tonight Show

Stephen Colbert and the Viral Video-Fueled Generation Hijack Late Night

late night hijack

David Letterman officially has a successor. Stephen Colbert will be the next Late Show host, CBS announced yesterday. I reflected on the news, and what this means for late night, at The Daily Beast, where I wrote,

With yesterday’s news that Stephen Colbert will take over the Late Show next year, the long-held notion of what it means to be a late-night host, and what it means to be a late-night audience, has been forever eradicated.

In 1992, your late-night options were Letterman and Leno, period. As of next year, the lineup will consist of Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel on the broadcast networks, along with cable hosts like Conan O’Brien (remember him?), Jon Stewart and whomever replaces The Colbert Report. Late night is no longer all-or-nothing; it’s an all-you-can eat buffet. Thanks to the Internet, you can sample as many late-night clips from as many late-night shows as you’d like.

In the piece, I trace late-night’s evolution and transformation over the past two decades, and how Letterman has changed from scrappy innovator to odd man out. As Kimmel, Fallon and Colbert have proven time and again, “Late-night” is now late-night in name only.

Stephen Colbert and the Viral Video-Fueled Generation Hijack Late Night

Just One Month In, Jimmy Fallon is Already King of Late Night—and YouTube


Thanks to Mitra Kalita for this suggestion. One month into Jimmy Fallon’s tenure as new Tonight Show host, I wrote this Quartz piece on how he’s doing better than NBC could have ever dreamed: keeping the show number one in late-night while also dominating his competitors online:

Yet while Fallon has successfully maintained Tonight’s ratings dominance while drawing a significantly younger audience, his biggest achievement during his first month is online, where for the first time, people are viewing and sharing Tonight Show clips in massive numbers. His 10 most-watched Tonight clips on YouTube over the past month (from Feb. 17, the day of his first Tonight Show, to Mar. 15) have all garnered more than 2 million views. In contrast, only five of Leno’s Tonight Show clips have ever been watched more than 1 million times on YouTube.

While Quartz is famous for its innovative approach to charts and graphs, very few of my stories lend themselves to including them. But for this one, I was able to contribute some of my very own, as I painstakingly charted the number of times Fallon’s, Jimmy Kimmel’s and David Letterman’s most popular clips had been viewed on YouTube.

The numbers make one thing clear: almost immediately, Fallon has made the Tonight Show relevant online in a way it had never been before with Leno at the helm. And in the process, he has validated NBC’s controversial decision to give him The Tonight Show despite Leno’s continued reign atop the ratings. Fallon’s commanding numbers—both on TV and online—have ended (at least for now) any second-guessing that Leno was ushered off too early.

Meanwhile, Fallon and Kimmel’s YouTube success illustrates a key way the late-night landscape has evolved since the early days of Leno vs. Letterman: it’s no longer enough of a coup to simply land a big star; you also have to do something unexpected with them. The majority of both Fallon and Kimmel’s most popular YouTube clips feature big stars doing unexpected things, as opposed to the standard talk show anecdotes that Letterman (and Leno) stick to.

Until I did this story, I was shocked at Letterman’s meager online presence versus his time slot competitors. And congrats to Fallon on a first month to be proud of.

Just one month in, Jimmy Fallon is already king of late night—and YouTube

What’s Next for Leno? 7 Networks That Might Nab Him


Jay Leno is signing off from The Tonight Show Thursday — for good this time, he swears — and he said he’s had “all kinds of offers” for his next TV job. He says he has nothing planned yet, but as I note at NBCNews.com:

But a notorious workaholic like Leno — who squeezed in 100 stand-up gigs last year in addition to his regular ‘”Tonight Show” hosting duties — won’t simply be putting his feet up in retirement.

I suggest seven different networks that might be a good fit for him — and why.

What’s Next for Leno? 7 Networks That Might Nab Him