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Future of TV The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Jimmy Fallon

Can Stephen Colbert compete with Jimmy Fallon's viral video success?


By Kimberlee Van Der Wall, Contributor

August 28, 2015 | 3 min read

Will Stephen Colbert be able to hold onto his younger viewer and fan base? On Comedy Central, 43 percent of The Colbert Report's regular audience was younger than 30 (according to Pew). Additionally, the personality that Colbert perfected for Comedy Central won't exist in the same way on CBS. As a new generation of late night begins one thing is for sure - Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert's battle for the top viral videos each day will be as strong as the linear ratings competition.

Stephen Colbert

Fallon's focus on viral videos when he got his late night start in 2009:

Instead of just running typical television promos NBC focused heavily on YouTube. They tested different segments for weeks before Fallon ever premiered. NBC wanted to capture the young audiences of SNL and bring them to late night. It was also cheaper. Since 2009, Jimmy Fallon has dominated on YouTube with weekly viral content from his now Tonight Show hosting gig. Fallon has also lowered the average age of late night viewers. CBS wants to seize the opportunity to bring those Colbert fans & millennials to their network by creating a social campaign.

Colbert's early attempts at holding onto the YouTube generation:

So far Colbert's YouTube promotions have been simple getting to know you videos like "Lunch with Stephen" mixed in with some pretty big viral stunts such as taking over a local Michigan TV station to interview Eminem (currently at 3.8 million views).

Colbert's YouTube has ammased over 125,000 subscribers and the show doesn't premier until September 8th. The fact that Colbert pulled off such a stunt and one of his videos will hit 5 million before his show even debuts shows that Colbert has viral power very much needed to compete in this late night war. Whereas Jimmy brought a younger audience to NBC, Colbert will bring them to CBS. May the best cat videos win.

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Future of TV The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Jimmy Fallon

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