David Letterman: Viral YouTube Videos Push Out Host

David Letterman cannot keep up with the viral videos that Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon pump out every night and turn into viral YouTube hits.

Sure, Letterman can convince Tina Fey to strip down and take off her #LastDressEver but it’s not ranking the same way a Sofia Vergara playing Catch Phrase to promote her movie Hot Pursuit did this week on Jimmy Fallon.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Letterman discusses the reasons that he is retiring from The Late Show, and viral video competition is one of the reasons.

To be fair, Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battles and Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets are not the only reason that David Letterman is leaving The Late Show. After more than a year of consideration, Letterman plans to leave The Late Show to spend more time with this family.

Letterman is no stranger to hits, delivering clips that dominated email sharing in the early days of YouTube with Stupid Pet Tricks and the well-known top 10 lists that used to dominate late night TV. These clips don’t compete with Fallon and Kimmel’s creations in terms of online visibility.

Tina Fey’s Last Dress Ever sketch sits at less than 3,000 views at the time of publishing, while the Jimmy Fallon Sofia Vergara Hot Pursuit promo is at almost a million after a few days. Fallon’s Lip Sync Battles top 40+ million views and Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets and YouTube Challenges also sit at 40+ million views.

By contrast Letterman’s top viewed YouTube clips, including Dave announcing his retirement, a robin Williams remembrance and Amy Schumer giving Letterman a tease and a joke only delivered 4 million views.

The late night landscape shifted to one where viewers watch every night to see the latest skits, sketches and interviews into one where viral videos reign supreme with YouTube views and social media shares that amplify the reach well beyond the loyal viewers who stay up late to watch.

In the full interview Letterman tells Rolling Stone, “I think I’m the blockage in the plumbing.” when it comes to viral videos. Even with the viral video push out, Dave describes the current competition with respect. Letterman calls Jimmy Fallon, “bright and colorful” and describes Kimmel as “friendly” and
“very sweet.”

Viral videos are one reason David Letterman is retiring. catwalker / Shutterstock.com

Viral videos are one reason David Letterman is retiring. catwalker / Shutterstock.com

The last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman airs on May 20th, with special guests scheduled throughout the next week of shows to close out an epic run in late night TV. Jimmy Kimmel will air a re-run during this last showing of Live! out of respect for Letterman’s last Late Show airing.

You can watch one of David Letterman’s most famous Top 10 lists above with Snoop Dogg and below you can see one of his Stupid Pet Tricks episodes that were the early viral hits, but don’t draw the same attention as the competition can deliver today.

The David Letterman interview is available in the May 8th issue of Rolling Stone that is on sale on shelves today and also digitally on iTunes, Nook, Kindle Fire, Zinio, Google Play and NIM.