Late night talk show TV has been experiencing somewhat of a resurgence under the influence of younger blood. Jimmy Kimmel Live has been on the air since 2003, and Jimmy Fallon has been hosting The Tonight Show since Jay Leno’s departure last month. Both have been quite keen to embrace the Web in spreading their content and brand. Letterman may want to take some notes.
Ratings for The Tonight Show have spiked up since Fallon took over. According to Quartz, Fallon attracted 4.5 million viewers the week of March 3. This beat both Kimmel and Letterman, and in the 18 to 49 demographic, Fallon has more than his competitors combined. That’s a 43 percent increase over Jay Leno’s average for the current season.
Indeed, Fallon is pulling in a younger audience, and it may be because of his presence online. Fallon’s top three clips for the month pulled in 29.19 million views on YouTube alone, while Kimmel drew 21.67 million. Compare that to Letterman’s paltry 560,000.
Quartz contributor Jason Lynch sees the key difference as generational. He says that Letterman and Leno never embraced the Internet the way the Jimmys do. However, “it’s no longer a choice between Fallon, or Kimmel or Letterman,” he writers. “Audiences can pick and choose segments to watch and share, at their leisure.” He also adds that because of the nature of the Internet, late night talk is now a 24-hour game.
Kimmel, whose YouTube channel has over 1 billion video views and almost 4 million subscribers, isn’t all that concerned with viral success despite enjoying so much of it. “We’re in the business of making a television show and if these things lend themselves to the Internet, then great. But that’s not our intent,” he said in an interview with Recode.
So while social networks are helping out late night, TV is still sort of king, according to Kimmel. “The amount of money we make from selling commercials on television, is 100 times as much as we make from people watching our YouTube videos. And until those things even out somewhat, we’re going to be focused on television.”