Who is The New King of Late Night TV?

The rules have changed in late night TV. With social media in the mix, a new breed of late night talk show has risen, literally leaving the traditionalists in the dark. Hosts are not only personalities for their shows, but for their YouTube channels, twitter following and Facebook fans. The younger audience relies on the online social interaction to form a bond with their shows of choice. With the endangered species attention spans of the Generation Y audience, fans rely on recaps and clips from each night’s show to interact and share with their own social media audience without the fat that comes with watching an entire show.

Conan really paved the social media way with his departure from NBC in January of 2010 to TBS, beginning an online campaign that would set a foundation of an online social platform the other guys are still catching up to. Then there was the emergence of the Jimmy’s, Fallon and Kimmel. Their shows seeded in a later slot (Kimmel; 12:00 on ABC, Fallon; 12:35 on NBC) and would need follow in Conan’s footsteps and branch out to their online audience to hold ground in the late night game. So both sought out to produce hilarious clips that would resonate perfectly with the viral audience they were looking for. While Kimmel streamlined YouTube, Fallon has become dominant in social interaction on Facebook and Twitter. Letterman and Leno are still dominating the airwaves, but that could be short-lived with Kimmel moving up to a competing time slot. Only time will tell what the future holds for Leno and Letterman, but it doesn’t seem like they can hold a candle to the dominant online forces of Kimmel, Fallon and Conan.


TV ratings have been dominated by Leno and Letterman for years. Factors being long time loyal audience and earlier time slot. Leno has run away with the ratings as of late, while the rest of the pack are keeping things competitive. Fallon is the most impressive being that his show airs at 12:35 am.

Conan obviously dominates this category, breaking the 2 million fans mark, largely due to his “I’m With COCO” campaign. The campaign was a huge success on the viral end and helped Conan gain leverage that still gives him the upper hand 3 years later.


Again, Conan dominates the Twitter platform along with Jimmy Fallon who, since 2009, has been a huge advocate of fan interaction. Fallon started his online renaissance before his show even debuted.  The show’s Web site is staffed by three full-time bloggers, who compile viral videos and post photos. Questlove tweets during tapings of the show. “I think a lot of shows don’t use the Internet as well as they could,” said Fallon in 2009.

The most shocking of all online stats is the stronghold Jimmy Kimmel has on YouTube. Fallon and Conan both have well written, hilarious videos and do a great job being consistent with updates and interaction, but Kimmel has without a doubt found a niche that caters to a larger audience, nearly reaching 1 Million YouTube subscribers and even more astonishing almost 1 BILLION total YouTube views. With videos being a major force on the internet is hard to think that Letterman and Leno have all but waved a white flag, giving their YouTube page the Daria of efforts.


As TV ratings go, the head hancho’s are Leno and Letterman, the two aging kings of late night television, but with Kimmel’s presence on YouTube and his new 11:35 pm slot, starting January 8th, I’m sure he’ll catch up quick. His material is younger, edgier and crisper. Fallon and Conan have their Social Media platforms on lockdown, and are by far funnier than the rest of the pack, but as our research concludes Kimmel is dead set to conquer everything.


All Metrics as of 1/3/13

TV Ratings via: http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/

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