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Jimmy Fallon faces impossible 'Tonight Show' task (+video)

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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.

“They have to plan for the future, but in order to do that they have to sacrifice the one thing that they have in place, which is a stable audience of older viewers,” says Robert Thompson, founder of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University in New York.

The network needs to prepare for competition against younger hosts such as Mr. Kimmel, but in order to do that they will risk alienating an audience, he says, “that doesn’t care about social media and couldn’t care less about viral videos.”

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