Late-night talk shows are primed for a reboot

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Late-night talk shows are primed for a reboot


The Future. Late-night talk shows are preparing for a change of the guard, with many of today’s top names looking for an exit while diverse newcomers vie for a chance at the big desk. But with social media and streaming upending the entire concept of sitting down to watch a full episode of late-night TV, innovative streaming shows, like The Amber Ruffin Show, may find success by bridging the gap between the two styles of entertainment.

The old guard and the young Turks

According to Deadline, the late-night landscape may soon be getting new players.

  • After years of stability, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Samantha Bee, and Desus & Mero have all recently decided to either leave, are thinking about leaving, had their show canceled, or split up.
  • That means networks are now looking for fresh blood (preferably female and diverse) to take over, which includes names like Chelsea Handler (who’s already had some shows in the space), and other Kimmel-summer fill-ins like RuPaul and Anthony Anderson.
  • But less traditional options, like YouTube and TikTok influencers, are also being looked at. A couple of years ago, NBC experimented with that concept for the show A Little Late with Lilly Singh.

The key is that everyone is looking for someone that will immediately bring in eyeballs… but that doesn’t come without its challenges, with one late-night producer saying, “Everyone wants someone that already has followers but that’s [tough], like getting people to go from YouTube to linear.”

Missing appointments

Even though turning social media influencers into late-night stars is a tough process, the concept of social media may have unintentionally disrupted late-night.. Audiences rarely wait until 11:30 pm for takes on today’s news. Instead, they just grab their phones in the moment to see what a comedian wrote on Twitter or for a TikTok explainer video. 

That immediacy makes every hour (and no hour) “appointment viewing.” Doug Herzog, the former Comedy Central exec who oversaw The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, noted that “it feels like, with social media and the way these shows are kind of chopped up and sent out to the world, it’s late-night all the time.”  To see the tension at play, all you have to do is look at the discrepancy between Jimmy Fallon’s linear viewership and his YouTube viewership. The online clips are where the numbers really rack up.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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