Late-Night Has Failed American Viewers

Late-night television is instilled in the fiber of American culture. Johnny Carson is an icon. Jay Leno personified an era of comedy. Some of Hollywood's most fond memories include an appearance on set with David Letterman.

Late-night was appointment television. A pinnacle of broadcasting. An influencer of the conversation.

Today, it's none of that. Late-night television is stale. Hemorrhages viewers. And no longer cost-effective.

Across the top six late-night programs, ad revenue is down more than 50 percent since 2014 given the erosion in viewership. And more than 60 percent from its peak in 2016.

Ad revenue has plummeted while salaries have not. Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon make over $15 million per year. Jimmy Kimmel is not far off.

Axios attributes fall of the genre to shift toward streaming, be it cord-cutting or viewing habit changes. Social media has become a hub to consume The Tonight Show free of charge and cable.

Undoubtedly, the advent of digital media expedited the demise of late-night as a lucrative medium in television.

But just as responsible for the fall is the path late-night took upon itself. The industry is unrecognizable to its former self.

This batch of late-night hosts neglect the formula that its predecessors used to rise atop American entertainment.

Late-night was tailor-made for the enjoyment of viewers. Welcoming to all.

Carson was one of us. Leno was hysterical. Letterman spoke to our idols.

Simply put, late-night isn't funny anymore. It's preachy and inclusive. It's limited to socially acceptable jokes, guests, and talking points.

Colbert is hyper-partisan with staunch disregard for at least half of the country. Fallon stole your 12-year-old's repertoire of jokes. And Kimmel is a simp for Big Media, who he hopes forgives him for his previous days as just one of the guys.

Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmell are shills. They converted a once-cherished genre into a vehicle through which Democrats can drive their messaging.

A recent NewsBusters study uncovered that between Labor Day through Jan. 31, late-night shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, and Comedy Central have featured 93 liberal guests to just one conservative guest.

A dichotomy not even MSNBC can hope to match.

Sure, Netflix drove viewers away. As did the following:

The greatest indictment on folks like Kimmel is the ongoing success of non-traditional late hosts.

Bill Maher is more relevant than during the Trump years. He's one of the few truth-seekers in media.

He mocks both the Right and the Left, as they both should be.

Maher is creative, independent, skilled, and unpredictable. His signature "New Rules" segment oft sits atop online discourse Saturday mornings.

Fox News host Greg Gutfled hosts a hybrid between late-night and cable news primetime. He routinely tops Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmel in the ratings despite airing on cable versus broadcast television.

Americans want to laugh. They need a distraction. They hope to hear from idols, not so-called ideologues.

Late-night no longer fulfills such demands.

Late-night now executes the same mission as the corporate press, in the guise of comedy.

Perhaps late-night has gone the way of American culture: unamusing, fractured, and unfamiliar to itself.

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.