The Power Is Gone From Late Night

When I was growing up, almost every adult I knew watched Johnny Carson.  He was the true King of Late Night.  Why?  Back then, there were few alternatives to passive entertainment.  You could watch stuff on other channels but it wasn’t as good.  In the 70s, ABC tried to compete with Nightline and because it was so cheap to do a news show they could afford to run it for decades but it never really sapped viewers from Carson.

Carson was the “It” place.  It was must-see TV.

If you were going to plug a movie, a tv show, a record or become famous, you had to be on his show.  Hundreds of comedians chalk up their success to the first time they were on Johnny Carson.  You’d watch and be entertained.

If you are too young to have seen or known of the Carson phenomena, it’s worth watching some clips from YouTube.  Talk to your grandparents about him.  Odds are good no matter what walk of life they were from they watched.

Since Johnny Carson retired, the power has been waning from late night television shows. Letterman and Leno split the power for a while.  However, as the internet has bloomed, they lost the power and control they had as well.  Today, each of the major networks has their own late night show trying to mimic the magic that Carson had.  TNT has Conan.

It’s not must-see TV though.

I have watched them over the years but they tire me now.  My politics are right of center.  All these shows have gone off the deep end and thrown their lot with the hard left wing.  Carson used to make political jokes, but he went after both parties.  It was practically impossible to tell if he was left of center or right of center.

The other thing Johnny Carson had was when he told jokes about politics, it was purely to get a laugh.  There wasn’t any bitterness.  When I see late night comics today, they are deeply bitter.  Lemons are sweeter.  Instead of getting laughs, I think you will see their ratings go down.  They are not entertaining.

When ratings go down, guests don’t have to be on their shows.

Today with the many different avenues to reach potential customers, does it matter if some actor or music artist or comedian goes on late night television to plug their gig?

The late-night hosts chose to get political. When Oprah got political, she lost 50% of her audience.  I always counsel startups to never get political.  Stay focused on your mission-delighting your customer.  Leave the virtue signaling and other stuff to everyone else.  In the long run, it never gets customers.




10 thoughts on “The Power Is Gone From Late Night

  1. Ratings say you are not correct.

    Late night comedians are off the charts with viewership since the election started.

    I watch them in snippets throughout each day.

      1. Things change as they should.

        The lament about that change is below you my friend. You are way to smart and flexible for that.

        If is as it should be with the stratus of channels for each of us.

        1. Nope, I think they are alienating 50% of the population. Watch. Sort of like the NFL. You watch in snippets on YouTube or some other platform. Their shows are no longer must see TV. I would agree with anyone that time have changed significantly since Carson-and you wonder how Carson would fit in to the media industrial complex today. But, I guarantee you he wouldn’t have started by alienating 50% of the population.

          1. I will still let you buy me dinner but can’t agree on this.

            I don’t think 50% of the people in this country think people should be able to own machine guns.

          2. It’s not just guns. It’s everything. Their delivery is totally bitter. Full of acid and anger.

          3. Their/they is everyone on TV then?

            As a Republican with a conscience and a moral center my friend you are feeling like the character in Ionesco’s Rhinoceros!

            Especially in the tech world.

            And this will exacerbate as time goes on.

  2. You are 100% correct when you speak of politics. I have mentioned this before but a wise man once told me when I was starting out in business to avoid politics at all costs because it alienates 50% of your customers. He was right and so are you.

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