Last week late night talker David Letterman announced that he will retire from his hosting duties on the Eye Network in 2015. The announcement comes a few weeks after his late night rival Jay Leno retired for the second time. Leno leap frogged ahead of Letterman in the early 90’s to succeed outgoing host of “The Tonight Show;” Johnny Carson. Because of that Letterman left the NBC network for CBS where the late night rivalry started.
David Letterman spent 11 years as the host of the NBC show that followed “The Tonight Show”. During that time the late night genre has changed dramatically. The audience for late night programming is getting younger as older viewers are either retiring to bed early or just not tuning in. The last week March “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” touted a victory in a key demographic beating the combined efforts of Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman in the same time slot. However according to Deadline.com, Letterman’s announcement drove more viewers to his program beating “The Tonight Show” in preliminary totals.
This is your grandfather’s late night anymore
With Letterman leaving in 2015 CBS has an opportunity to capitalize on the increase in younger viewers. Appointing a new host preferably under 40 who could identify with younger audiences would be a strategic move for the network. While CBS ponders on who will replace Letterman, officials in New York and Los Angeles are sending notes to Les Moonves, Chariman and CEO of CBS lobbying on behalf of their city. The mayor of Los Angeles wants CBS to move Letterman’s replacement to L.A.. The city of Angeles recently lost “The Tonight Show” which has been filmed in or around the city since 1972. Although when Letterman leaves, what wil become of the Ed Sullivan Theater? It’s a historic landmark, surely some kind of show needs to occupy that building.