Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Goes Online; Will It Get Viral?

While everyone has given credit to Tina Fey, Sarah Palin and a little something called the Presidental Election for bringing Saturday Night Live back into the realm of cultural relevancy, we happen to think NBC’s forward-thinking web strategy helped just as much. By making increasingly more skits available online, the network has been able to disseminate Saturday Night Live to an audience that might never have seen the show in the first place. So today, most likely, you’re watching awesomely catchy “Jizz in my Pants” and proclaiming that this weekend’s show was great, instead of sitting through the broadcast on DVR, and realizing it wasn’t (something that we, sadly, did.) Adopting a playlist mentality for Saturday Night Live skits is a neat sleight of hand trick that executive producer Lorne Michaels has been able to take full advantage of.

Now it seems Mr. Michaels is hoping to use that same formula for Jimmy Fallon and his upcoming job as Conan O’Brien’s replacement on Late Night. Starting tonight and continuing until Mr. Fallon officially takes over for Mr. O’Brien in early March, will be premiering original content each night at 12:30 a.m. as a preview for the new Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. While Mr. Fallon won’t be doing actual talk shows, the 34-year-old comedian will vary what each segment focuses on nightly, allowing for everything from behind-the-scenes looks at his stand-up gigs to trips around his new Late Night offices.

Whether or not you happen to think Mr. Fallon is a good replacement for Mr. O’Brien (and we kinda think he is), you can see why this is a good idea. Beta testing a comedy show online and getting instantaneous reactions seems like the perfect way for Mr. Fallon, or anyone else, to launch into vicious world of late night television. And since each video will only be five minutes, the chances of one or more of them going viral during the next few months are highly increased. NBC couldn’t buy publicity that good! We’ve been waiting for a network to attempt this type of maneuver with their programming, but as yet, it seems only the Peacock has had the foresight enough to do it. With endless amount of original web content available for shows like The Office, 30 Rock and Heroes, the network is light years ahead of the competition when it comes to using the internet to promote their product. Now if they could only figure out a way to translate that into actual Nielsen viewers…