Colbert Late Show To Do Battle With Fallon’s Tonight Show

Both Air in Same Time Slot: Weeknights at 11:30pm

jimmy fallon stephen colbertWith Stephen Colbert having taken over David Letterman’s longtime tenure as host of the Late Show on CBS, he is now is the same time slot as one of his colleagues and competitors: Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC. Whereas David Letterman traditionally catered to an older demographic than Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert stepping into the Late Show shoes mean that he and Jimmy Fallon are now competing for the same younger demographic. Though Colbert is 51, which is significantly older than Fallon at age 40, he generally caters to the same younger demographic, at least to a younger demographic than Letterman did in his time. This is the first time that the two late night shows are very different in both style and content; whereas Colbert presents a funny look at serious subject matter, Fallon has taken his show more to irreverent interviews along with hilarious Saturday Night Live style sketches. Though there are no clear ratings comparisons at this time, as Colbert has only just begun his new tenure, it is clear that the competition will be fierce and the networks will need to consider the matter from a different angle than they are used to. The format of the traditional late night hosts such as David Letterman and Jay Leno now seems so long ago, and we have entered a new era of late night television

The Battle for Viral Videos as Much as Traditional Ratingsjimmy fallon stephen colbert

When Stephen Colbert led his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, 43 percent of his regular audience was under age 30 (according to a survey by Pew). However, in having abandoned his conservation character Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report, he will need to work to hold onto his younger fan base. On the other hand, he has a much stronger hold on that demographic than his predecessor, David Letterman. Both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are renowned not only for captivating audiences in their traditional television time slots, but also for cultivating a strong following from people watching recap videos online, on sites such as youtube as well as the networks’ own websites. Therefore, the battle between Colbert and Fallon to captivate viewers will not only depend on the simultaneity of their television airings, but also on their ability to retain viewership on the viral video channels. When Fallon got his start in 2009, he significantly lowered the average age for late night viewers as a whole, and a great part of his strategy was focusing on viral videos. To this point, Colbert has already begun to capitalize on that strategy as well, through creating a podcast and website in anticipation of the launch of his reign on the Late Show, and by launching memorable moments such as shaving his “Colbeard” that he grew during his time off from appearing on television.

The Implications for Advertiser Revenue

As of now, there is a $100 million advertising gap between Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC and the Late Show on CBS. In taking over from David Letterman, Stephen Colbert has his work cut out for him in terms of closing that gap. In 2014, of the $412.1 million that advertisers spent on the 11:30pm timeslot on the networks CBS, NBC, and ABC, Jimmy Fallon’s show snagged 47.6 percent of that, at $196.3 million. Furthermore, that number increased throughout the four quarters of 2014, with Fallon earning 46.4 percent in the 2nd quarter, 51.5 percent in the 3rd quarter, and the finishing out the year with 55 percent in the final quarter. On the other hand, David Letterman’s numbers decreased each quarter, culminating in just 22.5 percent in the final quarter of 2014. Of course, these numbers do not take into account the viral video viewership. Nevertheless, Stephen Colbert will need to work hard to cultivate viewership that will warrant competitive advertising revenue for the network, which from a business perspective, is exactly what he was hired to do.

Seth Meyers Inherits Late Night From Jimmy Fallon In New York


Jimmy Fallon has passed his late night show over to Seth Meyers from SNL fame. Jimmy has owned Late Night for the last five years after Conan O’Brien was booted because of terrible ratings. Subsequently, the NBC executives reinstalled Jay Leno back in The Tonight Show slot. Conan could have taken his Late Show slot back, but chose to go on to host his own show on TBS a year later (and was $12 million richer from the non-compete contract he had with NBC.)

With Jimmy Fallon now graduating to Jay Leno’s slot on The Tonight Show, there leaves a void to be filled on Late Night and Seth Meyers (from NBC’s SNL) gets the pickle passed to him. The new show with Meyers will still be in the after-midnight 12:35am TV show time slot – a slot that is very hard to garner TV audience, especially with so much TV and non-TV competition out there. Seth Meyers “new” version of the show will have a new format and will include some skits lifted straight from SNL, some on-the-street clips, as well as the standard format of the opening monologue and a bunch of interesting guests to boot.

It’s good that the NBC show is recorded at 5PM EST as Meyers is only a year younger than Fallon at the ripe old age of 40. Late Night has a history of burning out the host, who often doesn’t feel any pressure to attract a big audience, but can often feel that their show is going nowhere fast, leading to motivational issues for them and their staff. Graduating to a better time slot is almost unheard of: Conan underlined that, but Fallon managed to buck the trend, showing that it is possible.

The “Passing Of the Pickle” is a tradition created by David Letterman, who departed Light Night many years ago where the staff on the show bestowed a giant plastic pickle upon the fresh faced new host, Conan O’ Brien. Jimmy Fallon, too,  received the pickle from Conan O’Brien, but the tradition goes way back: a number of TV hosts over the years have exchanged the pickle including Jack Paar and Ed Sullivan, who received real pickles from Katz’s deli. The pickle is a metaphor for being passed a lame duck time slot.

Jimmy Fallon vacates the Late Night on February 6, 2014 to get ready for The Tonight Show debut and Seth Meyers starts the new show Late Night on February 24, 2014. No indication yet of what NBC executives expect to see in terms of success or failure, but with their history they may even forget that he is on their channel. With Seth Meyers experience on SNL and on the daytime yakker show Live with Kelly, this should stand him in better than his competition for this slot that reportedly included Alec Baldwin, George Lopez,W. Kamau Bell, Whitney Cummings, Gordon Elliot and Maury Povich, all veterans of the TV circuit.

NBC’s The Tonight Show Returns To New York With Jimmy Fallon At The Helm

Jimmy Fallon Brings the Tnight Show To New York City

Known for his madcap skits on SNL with Justin Timberlake and his youthful stand-up style, Jimmy Fallon has been tasked with bringing The Tonight Show back to New York City after a 50 year hiatus. The show has lived for over five decades in Los Angeles, with Jay Leno most recently at the helm.

It all started with the The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in New York back in 1954. Jack Paar took the show over a few years later and and then Johnny Carson moved the show from New York to Hollywood in 1962. It hasn’t been back to New York City since. Jay Leno and David Letterman had their famed “Late Night Wars” where they fought over the show (Johnny Carson wanted to give it to Letterman, but NBC execs decided otherwise) and now Jay Leno ends his tenure with his two-decade run on The Tonight Show February 6, 2014 with his final guests Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks. Just a few days later on February 17, Jimmy Fallon begins his version of The Tonight Show at midnight. (It’s been placed after NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics for that week, returning to a regular time slot of 11pm the following week).

Jimmy Fallon is lucky enough to have a great lead-in with the Olympics coverage and is anticipated to include some wonderful guests including Sean Connery, Ringo Starr, Madonna, Aaron Paul, and George Clooney. (It’s hoped that NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is better than it has been over the last few years, because this apparent benefit of lead-in ratings could well become a negative if NBC screws it up again. For example, showing events that took place over 24 hours ago, inexplicably cutting away from the highly anticipated Opening Ceremonies to a Ryan Seacrest interview instead, and so on and so forth.)

the tonight show starring Jimmy FallonAs for the void that that Jimmy Fallon leaves at his show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers takes Jimmy’s old slot and so begins yet another round of late show musical chairs. The very first time NBC executives tried to replace Leno was back in June 2009, and it was a complete disaster. They replaced Leno with Conan O’Brien – but with Conan’s lack of mainstream appeal and the NBC executives lack of stomach… (were these really the same  NBC executives that were responsible for green-lighting the sleeper-hit Seinfeld? they must have just gotten lucky) NBC gave it an early bath and landed Conan with a reported $12 Million settlement deal and his own a show on TBS a year later when his NBC non-compete contract expired.

This time around, NBC executives think they can do a better job and Jimmy Fallon gets a try at the brass ring. No word yet on what the backup plan is this time if Fallon fails to garner market share; perhaps Jay Leno is still under contract if Jimmy’s viewer numbers don’t pan out?

Tickets to The Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon, which is being shot at the NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, are available at the NBC ticket desk by calling (212) 664-3056. Generally, tickets are booked about 4-6 weeks in advance from the actual taping. Please call Monday-Friday (9am-5pm ET) for availability. Standby tickets are always fair game for these kinds of shows in New York City, but anticipate higher than normal demand at the start of the run, giving way to a reasonable ticket demand as the show settles in.