With every aspect of television rapidly evolving, there probably isn’t an area that has undergone more sweeping changes in the past couple of years than late night. A slew of new shows cropped up across the dial, and the networks with the longest traditions in the day part, NBC and CBS, both changed the hosts of their late-night franchises. That big changeover could shake up the Outstanding Variety Series Emmy category, which has long been dominated by late-night shows. The field finally got a jolt last year, with The Colbert Report taking the Emmy after a 10-year winning streak for The Daily Show that followed five consecutive wins by Late Show with David Letterman.
There were a handful of major late-night changes and new additions in the 1990s and the 2000s. The first botched Tonight Show transition in 1992, which installed Jay Leno as successor to Johnny Carson, led to CBS breaking NBC’s late-night monopoly with Letterman and the introduction of Conan O’Brien. They were followed by the launch of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. The following decade saw the arrival of Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Chelsea Lately on E! and another messy Tonight Show transition at NBC, resulting in the launch of O’Brien’s Conan on TBS and the emergence of Jimmy Fallon.
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While NBC’s late-night has dominated the headlines over the past couple of weeks with the highly rated departure of Jay Leno from The Tonight Show and the widely watched arrival of Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central’s far less talked about recent late-night addition, @midnight, has had a pretty good ratings story to tell too. Last week, the debut of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon delivered The Tonight Show‘s most watched week in 20 years. Taking on the NBC stalwart head-to-head at midnight last Monday-Thursday, including Fallon’s blockbuster Monday debut, @midnight posted its highest rated week ever in total viewers (731,000, up 18% from the previous week), and target demos of adults 18-34 (0.71 rating, up 29%), 18-24 (0.83, up 48%) and men 18-34 (1.09, up 31%) and men 18-24 (1.43, +59%). It narrowly beat Comedy Central’s 11 PM late-night anchor The Daily Show as the #1 cable talk show of the week in P18-24, M18-34 and M18-24 and tied TDS among P18-34. @midnight, hosted by Chris Hardwick and produced by Funny or Die, Serious Business and Brillstein, was a breakout among younger demos in its trial run last fall, earning a 40-week renewal. It’s been on an upswing since returning in January. In posting new series highs last week, @midnight topped its previous best week average that was logged just two weeks ago, during Jay Leno’s final week on The Tonight Show, Feb 3-6, including his highly rated Feb. 6 finale.
Chris Hardwick‘s dream guests on his Comedy Central show @midnight: “Jon Hamm, Tom Hanks, Mel Brooks — Joan Rivers would be great,” he answered today at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour. “They just know how to connect with an audience, they’re natural performers. It’s not comedy that drives the show — it’s comfort,” Hardwick said. @midnight uses a rotating lineup of comedians as they battle nightly for meaningless points doled out by host Hardwick, based on their take on the day’s social media and pop culture. Hardwick started his Q&A with a filibuster, walking TV critics though how the game is played — though it’s been on the air for a while now — including one full-on Buzzfeed Brown-nose, in which he asked critics in the room to guess which of three tweets he would read was a real tweet from Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur. The tweets also appeared on two screens in the room in letters about a foot tall. Answer: All Three! ”I hate to interrupt, but the show has been on the air for some time — some of us have seen it,” one critic snarked peevishly, speaking for the room. Read More »
2ND UPDATE FRIDAY 7:50 AM: Comedy Central just officially announced the 40-week pickup for @midnight, whose production calendar will mirror that of Comedy Central’s other late-night shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. “We’re amazed at how quickly ‘@midnight’ has resonated with our fans,” said the network’s Kent Alterman. “If the internet catches on and social media becomes a part of pop culture, we think we’ll really have something here.”
UPDATE 9:08 PM: Chris Hardwick just confirmed the pickup news on @midnight, announcing that the show will return with new episodes on January 6. “This was an experiment we did for a month, you guys watch, you join in the #HashtagWars, and we are so, so, so, so grateful,” he told the studio audience.
EXCLUSIVE 9 PM: Comedy Central‘s late-night block is officially expanding to 1.5 hours. I’ve learned that after a successful four-week trial run, which ends tonight, the network’s newest late-night entry — midnight show @midnight hosted by Chris Hardwick and produced by Funny or Die — is being given a big vote of confidence with a 40-week pickup. The renewal is not surprising given how strong the show has done in Comedy Central’s target young and male demos. @midnight has the lowest median age in late-night, 32. In Men 18-34 (237,000 through 11/10), Men 18-24 (106,000) and persons 18-24 (142,000), @midnight is the third-highest-ranked late-night show in all of television … Read More »
TBS’ new late-night entry, The Pete Holmes Show, opened to 407,000 viewers at midnight on Monday, 245,000 of them in the adults 18-49 demographic. That was below the debut of the other new late-night cable show, Comedy Central‘s @midnight, which premiered last Monday to 549,992 total viewers and 260,876 adults 18-49, and Pete Holmes‘ predecessor in the post-Conan slot, Lopez Tonight, which clocked in 425,000 viewers and 269,000 adults 18-49 in its final week. Pete Holmes, which is produced by Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, only held half of its Conan lead-in, 782,000 total viewers, 482,000 adults 18-49. In the first midnight face-off last night, the Funny Or Die-produced @midnight topped Pete Holmes in every category, including adults 18-49 (393,000 vs. 245,000), helped by a stronger lead-in from The Colbert Report (628,000 adults 18-49). @midnight’s dominance is strongest in the younger demos, as it beat all late-night cable shows, including lead-ins The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and Colbert Report, in persons 18-24 where it drew 127,000 viewers last night. Colbert was No. 2 with 106,000, while Pete Holmes had 51,000.
Comedy Central’s new daily, late-night comedy competition, @midnight, hosted by Chris Hardwick and produced by Funny Or Die, will debut on October 21 when the network’s late-night block expands to 90 minutes. @midnight, which will air at midnight following The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, is taking a week-long jump on TBS’ new late-night entry, The Pete Holmes Show, which premieres in the same time slot on October 28. @midnight features a rotating lineup of today’s top comedians who will battle nightly to determine who has the funniest take on the day’s social media and pop culture happenings and wear the crown of funniest person on Earth (for the next 23½ hours).
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