Thursday, September 17, 2015
Les Moonves of CBS, at a recent session at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, called online clip viewing a “great secondary source of revenue.”
He also acknowledged that Letterman wasn’t into that. I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons Dave was pushed out the door. (And I’m sorry, no matter what he or anyone publicly says, I believe Dave was “asked” to leave for a younger host.) In discussing Colbert’s appeal versus Letterman's, Moonves said: “It’s a younger demographic and a hipper demographic. So Colbert could be a significant profit center.”
Profit center, source of income. Yeah, Dave, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
I have no problem with late night clips being available online. I watch them too. But I worry, will the programming of these late night shows change in order to maximize click bait? There used to be a flow to these nocturnal programs, there used to be a rhythm. I suspect one reason Dave was less excited about carving up his segments for online bite-sized viewing was that he often had running jokes through his show. Those callbacks would mean nothing if taken out of context.
Continuity used to be a big part of these shows. “Remember last night when we…?” Well, continuity is gone when viewers can watch clips from any day.
Now segments need to be flashy. Now each one needs a hook. NBC getting Fallon was a brilliant stroke if click bait is the goal. Playing games with celebrities, singing with them, karaoke – perfect programming for attracting online viewers.
My fear is that a little of the spontaneity and unpredictable nature of late night talk shows will give way to pre-packaged bits and promotable segments. I worry that the producers will forget that first and foremost they’re making a TELEVISION show. There are times I almost yell at the screen, “Hey, instead of programming for people who aren’t watching, how about programming for the people like me who ARE?” It’s kind of disconcerting to realize then networks don’t want me even when I am watching.