Despite falling behind its CBS and ABC late-night counterparts, NBC has renewed The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for the next half-decade.
The news broke during NBCUniversal’s Monday presentation in a rather unceremonious way. Television & Streaming chairman Susan Rovner confirmed the news earlier today, mentioning it off-the-cuff to Today anchor Hoda Kotb. The announcement confirms a wider commitment to the host and his show than anticipated.
It does not, however, come as a surprise. Fallon’s work on The Tonight Show has become part of NBC’s very fabric, with much of the show’s success coming courtesy of online streaming and viral clips featuring the biggest names in Hollywood.
Rovner offers no further elaboration on the renewal to the press. Instead, her emphasis remains on NBCUniversal’s plans to generate streaming content. Perhaps these two are one and the same, though, as The Tonight Show is such a big player in the internet age of Television.
Regardless, online popularity doesn’t deliver hard television ratings. Jimmy Fallon’s headliner has fallen behind CBS’ wildly successful The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It trails behind ABC’s leader, Jimmy Kimmel Live also, Variety cites.
Despite Ratings, ‘The Tonight Show’ Isn’t in Jeopardy
Total viewership for both rival programs has bested The Tonight Show for a while now. But Variety also sees no risk of the SNL alum losing his “hold on the host chair.”
As for the renewal, the 5-year commitment was reportedly struck this past November. Showrunner Gavin Purcell stepped down at the time, with “longtime staffer” Jamie Granet-Bederman taking over. Previously, outside producers were leading Tonight Show efforts. With Granet-Bederman’s promotion, Fallon’s show looks set to retake the reigns for the next half-decade.
Outside influence began in 2018 when Fallon’s late-night staple began trailing CBS & Colbert. NBC’s news and sports veteran Jim Bell was to “help steer the show,” Variety notes. But as ratings continue to demonstrate, Bell was unsuccessful.
Congruently to The Tonight Show‘s reshuffling, NBCUniversal went through a similar shakeup this past fall. This is when Susan Rovner signed on to lead content operations. Previously, she led Warner Bros. TV for a remarkable 20 years as top creative executive.
Underneath Rovner, NBCU is set full steam ahead. She’s already ordered “80 new series and special events,”
Rovner noted that NBCU’s new centralized TV content group has ordered 80 new series and special events. This is, no doubt, part of the company’s mass effort to push their Peacock streaming service into more direct competition with giants like Warner’s HBO MAX and the untouchable Disney+. How much emphasis goes to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in this effort, however, remains to be seen.