Image via CBS
After a track record that spans over 32 years, David Letterman has announced earlier this month he will be retiring from hosting his Late Show on CBS. So what has caused this big name to finally call it quits? Many are saying it’s due to the ratings Jimmy Fallon is putting out after he took over the Tonight Show. I say, it’s not just the new host of the Tonight Show that’s caused Letterman to throw in the towel, but rather the effort Fallon is putting out to redefine the late night talk show namesake. In this vein of thought, CBS made a bold yet perfect move by choosing funny-man Stephen Colbert as Letterman’s replacement.
Late night talk shows have been a staple in our television world since Steve Allen hit the small screen back in the early 1950’s, followed by Jack Parr and the king of late night, Johnny Carson. In today’s market, there is an over-saturation of late night talk shows. While this spells out more options for a generation that loves nothing more than the power of options, the ratings are spread thin for each host and the race to stay on air is an ever-changing playing field.
The shows that will survive will take a page out of Fallon’s book and create a stronger connection to the audience outside of the small screen. Fallon and team have made mountains of video content online that extends his reach outside of his hour-long block on air. Team up the digital efforts with Fallon’s informal routine and interview style that sways away from the intended purpose of publicity and he’s recreated the whole late-night television landscape. These skits and musical performances tailored for the online experience have become wildly popular and his volume of YouTube Subscribers represents nearly two-thirds of an audience as his show gets each night.
Image via Comedy Central
As for CBS’s host-to-be, Colbert has proven to be a hit on the cable circuit and many segments on his show get pushed around the internet on a daily basis. He’s perfect competition for Fallon’s strong running show, and he’s a fantastic writer for the circuit, but many people worry he won’t be as fun to watch on television out of his odd-ball character he portrays on The Colbert Report. For me, the only big questions left to answer is if Colbert can handle having the extra 30 minutes of programming and how well he switches from a cable audience to one for the Big Three. Let’s hope some of the satire remains in his coat pocket and see what he does to amp up his new hosting gig throughout the year.