Late Night Talk Shows: By The Numbers

By Admin, May 24, 2013


The Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno fiasco has left NBC with more than just a PR nightmare. Although he is now off the air, the network was forced to pay almost $33 million to buy O’Brien out of his contract. Not bad for a man who sits behind a desk and tells jokes. Clearly we’ve come a long way since the days of Steve Allen. Now a multibillion dollar industry, late-night talk shows are on the three major networks, and perhaps Fox might soon join the mix (fingers crossed) with “Coco” as the ringleader. But most of these shows are becoming victims of their own success, seemingly apathetic to innovation and risk-taking. Cable talk shows such as “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” continue to siphon away viewers. The Internet is also fragmenting the talk show audience, allowing people to view highlights on demand rather than watch an entire episode. While it’s unclear what the future holds for the late night format, most would agree that the Internet is bound to play an increasingly pivotal role. Our own late night series, “Twilight with Steve Cooper,” may be more satirical than traditional late night television, but it’s non-traditional approach is precisely what the NBC’s and CBS’s of the world need to incorporate now more than ever. In homage to both Coco and Steve Cooper, below is an in-depth look at the history and the numbers behind the late-night talk show industry.


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