Is late night TV dying? The nighttime variety talk show format has faced a number of growing challenges in recent years. Of course, COVID, but also social media comedy and the decline of network TV generally. So what does this mean?
Well, ratings are nosediving and so is ad revenue. After James Corden’s recent departure from “The Late Late Show,” CBS canned the TV show altogether. Jump over to cable TV and Trevor Noah’s exit from the “Daily Show” was followed not by another permanent host, but a cycling ensemble of comics, with no sure end in sight.
So, what’s to blame for late-night’s demise? Well, the streaming surge certainly isn’t helping. When you can see whatever program you want at any hour of the day, who wants to stay up until the wee hours on a weeknight just to see an often stale take on the day’s topics?
Monologues from late night giants like David Letterman and Jay Leno used to be considered the pinnacle of comedy. But these days, it’s senseless to expect Colbert or the Jimmy’s to keep up when a million Twitter users are beating them to the punch line.
My takeaway? In an era of instant entertainment, late night is just outdated. And it’s not the format and quality that’s the issue. In fact, many of the current hosts are brilliant comics with teams of top-tier writers.
But even then, content creators on apps like TikTok and Instagram are more in touch with a younger crowd of comedy fans. In a world where humor happens at the push of a button, late night isn’t holding up like it used to.
I’m Evan Rook.