As 'Tonight Show' host, Jimmy Fallon will try to hold on to Jay Leno's traditional audience while also tempting the social media generation. Analysts say he might not be able to do both.
Now that speculation has become confirmed fact – Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" next spring – the question many are asking is: Why fix a show that isn’t broke? After all, Mr. Leno has been routinely winning his time slot against longtime competitor David Letterman and holding his own against upstart Jimmy Kimmel on ABC.
Can Saturday Night Live alum Mr. Fallon do a better job?
In NBC's eyes, "Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent, and this is his time,” NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke told the Hollywood Reporter, a trade publication. “We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1."
But media analysts say NBC is doing its best to find a balance between the disintegrating network television model that "The Tonight Show" dominated for decades and the new viewing patterns among young people, who are as likely to connect with "The Tonight Show" though Twitter as through a TV remote.
While NBC feels Fallon will have broad appeal, his strengths clearly lean toward the younger demographics, analysts say, and that could mean the network will pay a ratings price for its efforts to become more a part of the social media buzz.