Comedy Channel: No reprieve for Letterman, Fallon & Leno

By David Knox on July 7, 2010 / Filed Under Pay TV 53

The Comedy Channel has no plans to return late night US hosts David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno to its schedule, despite some protests from angry subscribers.

The channel dropped the three hosts from its line-up at the end of June, replacing them with reruns of Saturday Night Live.

Foxtel claims the shows were not rating but declined to detail any figures. It also didn’t respond to questions about airing in different timeslots.

However TV Tonight has learned that the shows were indeed struggling to resonate.

The Late Show with David Letterman averaged 3,057 viewers across weeks 1-26 in 5 metro cities. Chelsea Lately on E! averaged 9,273. The latter show is another Tonight show airing in a similar timeslot on a channel with the same subscriber tier.

A Comedy Channel source told TV Tonight the shows are very expensive to acquire and it has opted to invest more in local productions, to be announced shortly. It is also awaiting Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show on TBS and would reassess its position later this year.

53 Comments »

  1. GavTheBatteredSav November 7, 2010 at 1:11 am -

    I cancelled my foxtel subscription after they canned “Late Night Legends”.

    I’ll be watching Conan on GEM & Letterman on Ten

  2. JoJo September 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm -

    I really hope they air Conan/Conaw!

  3. Carlos Jorge August 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm -

    I am also extremely disapointed that the Comedy channel droped all the Late Shows. I only kept my subscription up to watch Letterman, Leno, Connan and Fallon. As it is I will be cancelling my subscription to Austar alltogether.

  4. Jay P. July 30, 2010 at 3:31 am -

    I used to watch these shows on Comedy Channel pretty regularly, but I stopped tuning in after Conan left the Tonight Show. Looks like a lot of others did the same. I could care less about Jay Leno, but I’ll be disappointed if Conan’s TBS show doesn’t get picked up by 7TWO or GO!. Goodbye Foxtel, Hello Freeview!

  5. Adele July 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm -

    I am not happy with the Comedy Channel taking Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmell off their channel. I spoke to a Foxtel representative and he said they took these programmes off because they weren’t very popular with the viewers, but I would say that it’s got something to do with cutting costs. With all the revenue Foxtel get from airing so many commercials, and the skyrocketing monthly subscription they should be able to afford them. If anything, all the Foxtel Subscriptions should be cheaper as they get huge amounts of money from all the commercials they show. Foxtel members should start a petition to either stop the large amount of commercials shown or get cheaper subscriptions.

  6. Marie-Anne July 24, 2010 at 3:02 am -

    Ratings v Dollars… ***Pay*** TV prefers ratings? Really????
    OK, they have me down to a basic subscription thanks to this decision. And I made it clear my $$$ would be gone for good if Fallon -who I adore- wasn’t picked up elsewhere. No sign of LNWJF anywhere on Foxtel, so I’ll cancel my sub by the end of July. Internet (non-Telstra!) viewing is more difficult, but I have no alternative…

    Do they honestly expect people to pay for repeats and other shows we can watch for free? Letterman is on FTA, Leno on Digital (along with Colbert & Daily Show), most TCC repeats -Scubs, South Park, Chaser, Summer Heights High, not to mention reruns in the ‘Aussie Gold’ and ‘Best of British’ blocks are on (or have already been seen -some 30+ years ago!- on) FTA/Digital. Other shows on Pay like Ellen & G.Norton can seen on FTA/Digital.

    We couldn’t expect TCC to cough up for a totally Fresh and exclusive late night line up like Fallon, Ferguson, Kimmel could we? No! So, unless you’re an absolute sports nut (live and exclusive, what now?) what is the point of Pay TV?? As more people connect to and get used to tuning in to it, Digital -a lot of reruns for free- will kill Pay TV and in all honesty I can say, good riddence, what a rip off. Here’s a clue to the ***Pay*** TV programming dummy’s – we’re Paying you to take risks and accept “lower ratings”. If you’re not prepared to do it, we Won’t be paying you at all!!!!! Get it or get out before you kill your industry!

  7. Jason July 15, 2010 at 11:51 am -

    People here are right that the late night shows were Comedy’s only asset, now most of them are gone, SNL hasn’t been funny since Will Ferrell left, you can see Daily Show/Colbert on ABC2 and their ‘local productions’ are an unmitigated suckfest.

    The only reason I won’t drop the channel is because E! is on the same tier and “The Soup” is the funniest show on television.

    For all those people wondering about Conan – TBS is a Time Warner channel so presumable Nine may have first refusal – I would expect his new show to turn up on GO!

  8. Jason July 15, 2010 at 11:41 am -

    I could never figure why Letterman was on TCC in the first place – it’s already on FTA every night anyway. As for Leno – surely the later timeslot didn’t help. Glad to see Chelsea Lately has a following – it’s a good show.

  9. Craig July 13, 2010 at 10:10 pm -

    Thanks for that.

    I noticed Rachael Ray was missing but I just thought it had moved and didn’t think much of it as I don’t really watch it but along with The Price is Right that is one big list, maybe they should pass those savings on to the customers who got Pay TV to see shows like that that FTA no longer carries.

  10. Mick July 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm -

    I an very disappointed in Foxtel by dropping the Late Night shows from the Comedy Channel.

    For one thing, I thought subscription TV was beyond ratings when it’s my dollar that is prepping up your programming. Advertising was never meant to be on subscription television when it first went to air in this country. But now that we have advertising plus your own subsctibers you must be raking in the dough. But I digress.

    I love all the late night shows. Letterman, Leno, Fallon and Kimble were all great. Australia does not have a late night show taping into local and current events on a nightly basis. I think we should, but until then the American shows are all we have.

    If you’re worried about the Comedy Channel losing “viewers” or “ratings” then may I suggest a channel that sits alone like Ovation does now. A channel completely dedicated to the Late Shows.

    Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Kimble plus Craig Ferguson, Bill Maher, Carson Daly, Bonnie Hunt, George Lopez, Chelsea Lately and the current Saturday Night Live as it goes to air in the US. I certainly hope to see Conan O’Brien returning to our screens in September when he comes back on TBS later this year. Add to these line ups repeats of Johnny Carson, Greame Kennedy, Don Lane, Rove and Steve Vizard and that is one hell of a good channel.

    With the introduction of digital free to air I also thought you would want to be more competitive. As it is, I will be switching off my Foxtel and going completely free to air.

  11. Billy July 12, 2010 at 8:46 am -

    Go to Facebook and join us on Bring back the late night legends – public figure .
    as a step towards reinstating these shows to Aussie tv. Also falling victim to Foxtel’s axe is Drew Carey on U.S. The Price is Right and Rachael Ray.
    We must help The Tonight show with Jay Leno , Late Night with Jimmy Fallon , Jimmy Kimmel Live , Craig Ferguson , Rachael Ray and U.S. The Price is Right come back on air .

  12. Michael July 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm -

    Why do I $100 a month for TV….oh well guess I can save $16.00 a month and watch reruns of TV shows that were shown on free to air in the 70′s and 80′s on another channel because I will be getting rid of Comedy.

  13. very very annoyed July 9, 2010 at 1:29 am -

    Another thing I miss with Comedy ditching the late night shows – the awesome band The Roots, on Fallon, one of the best show intros ever

  14. very very annoyed July 9, 2010 at 1:21 am -

    If Comdey is trying to focus on local productions they should get the Chaser boys to do a live nightly show with guests as well as including their usual Chaser style skits in public – that I would watch

  15. Billy July 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm -

    To Bazza ,
    Which country in the world offers free cable television ??

  16. Billy July 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm -

    How many calls do you think The Comedy Channel has had to say Thankyou for all the SNL reruns ?? 0?

  17. Em July 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm -

    I loved Jimmy Fallon’s show but couldn’t watch it that often because of the inconvenient time slot. I really don’t understand why they didn’t just change the schedule instead of getting rid of these shows. Maybe I should ditch pay tv and just watch what I want online.
    Also, do they think that local productions are going to rate any better?

  18. Nathan July 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm -

    @Rob 7TWO had their chance with Leno and basically screwed it up, it was on at 6pm and then on during the Midday, and then no where to be seen.

  19. very very annoyed July 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm -

    I think Comdey have underestimated how many people are interested in these shows and how likely it may be for people to start cancelling Comdey Channel part of their package, or even Foxtel altogether – its surprised me how many people have said they are considering this. If people just stopped their channel as a protest, maybe they would bring the shows back? I wonder how bad the ratings will be of the shows which have replaced the late night talk shows? What do they do if their ratings keep sliding, do they then bring back Leno, Fallon, Letterman in the near future, and Conan in Nov? To watch these shows again on Australian TV(apart from Letterman currently on Ten) you will have a long wait unless you have a time machine as you will have to go into the future, all the way to the year………3000!

  20. Craig(Buzz) July 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm -

    I’m not surprised i’m one fan who decided not to watch after the change.When Conan comes back it should be Conan,followed by Jimmy Kimmel,then Leno
    What has hurt them though Leno should have always been on first followed by Letterman then the horrible Fallon last

  21. Craig July 8, 2010 at 7:50 am -

    ITA they should consider 2nd teer shows, leave Letterman for TEN and maybe Seven can pick up Leno again. TCC should do Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien when he returns. Cheaper shows the costs might work out.

    Wonder if they will release the numbers from this week, to see the drop off since the start of the month?

  22. Dave July 8, 2010 at 12:50 am -

    Well to be honest the excuses sicken me. Too expensive they say, well Austar is quick to take out the $128 each month. I have totally lost faith in this channel. It seems to run by money hungry suits that don’t actually care about their audience. just take our money and run.

    I’m sure if they surveryed their subscribers, the people that keep them on the air, they would prefer fresh nightly guaranteed laughs instead of the local turkeys they have produced in the past. Do I need say anything more than Comedy Slapdown!

    For the Conan fans, don’t worry, even if they acquire it, they will treat it with the same disdain as they did to Jay, Jimmy Fallon, Dave, Bill Maher and Jimmy Kimmel.

    Time to start treating your subscribers properly, before you don’t have anymore left to annoy. Thank heavens I can watch most of The Tonight Show on NBC’s website.

  23. Ben July 8, 2010 at 12:38 am -

    I only ever watch Chelsea Lately anyway so no big deal to me. She is much funnier and has a fresh format compared to the boys.

  24. Rutzie July 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm -

    Are those figures just the people who watch it live or do they include people who have IQ’d it and watch it later because I have never watched Jimmy Fallon live, I always record it and watch it back the next day.

  25. Tbone23 July 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm -

    I agree with Craig it’s more to do with money/cost then ratings.
    The only shows i watch on comedy channel was the late night shows along with The Colbert Report ·& Jon Stewart tho with those on ABC i don’t really need CC…

  26. Rob July 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm -

    So Letterman is on 10 already, there is a world outside pay tv, lets suggest 7two picks up Leno and then we can be all happy again! :)

  27. Nudge July 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm -

    ‘invest more in local productions, to be announced shortly.’ HA the comedy channel pulls off another side splitter.Even if they do come up with something local my money will be on it being a dud! like the rest of the local tripe they palm off as entertainment.

  28. Nat July 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm -

    Can they put The Late Show with Craig Ferguson on instead?

  29. Bazza July 7, 2010 at 8:24 pm -

    People still pay for TV in Australia? Really?

  30. KFed July 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm -

    How about Jimmy Kimmel?

    And does this mean 7Two might pick up Leno again?

  31. very very annoyed July 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm -

    David, Thanks very much for enquiring about everything including the possibility of Conan in Nov – Paul I agree, 10.00pm Conan, 10.45 Leno & 11.30 Fallon or even just Fallon and Conan would be great. I don’t plan on watching Comedy Channel ever again unless they bring back the late night shows. Please let sanity prevail.

  32. mikeys July 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm -

    “The Late Show with David Letterman averaged 3,05″…. There’s *no way* this figure is correct. NFW.

  33. Billy July 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm -

    Invest in more local production ?? which means some new Australian 8 episode comedy that will end up on ABC1 anyway , compared to the 5 nights a week new Jay Leno , Fallon episodes all year round? Can you see the shorter end of the stick?
    Hope they lose a lot on their investment ,I hope its Comedy Channel’s biggest failure. I hate the channel.

  34. ozgeek July 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm -

    Well that’s a relief, I was trying to work out why the IQ2 had stopped recording The Tonight Show. Leno was the only reason we subscribed to The Comedy Channel. Yep, time to downgrade for us too.

  35. TV tragic July 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm -

    Since when are Foxtel concerned about ratings. We pay for these shows. So fringe shows and other series which dont get a run on free to air can be viewed and enjoyed

  36. Patrick July 7, 2010 at 1:38 pm -

    Seems a bit strange that Foxtel should be concerned with ratings – thought it existed just to get cash out of subscribers??

    Mind you, Foxtel is nowhere near what it used to be about 10 years ago. Back then there were shows you really did want to pay to see unlike the dross on it now…..

  37. Nathan from Extra Source Podcast July 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm -

    Join the facebook group i created ‘Bring back the Late Night Legends to Foxtel’ and hopefully they will take notice!

    facebook.com/#!/pages/Bring-back-the-Late-Night-Legends-to-Foxtel/132424063456449?ref=ts

  38. Andrew_81 July 7, 2010 at 1:11 pm -

    Don’t forget Craig Ferguson! That would be cheaper than the others and its better and funnier!

  39. Grinspoon July 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm -

    Isn’t part of the luxury of pay TV that it isn’t dictated by ratings?

    Also by only giving letterman figures, which is shown on FTA tv is being a bit dishonest.

    I have never ever heard of anyone anywhere ever mentioned the Chelsea Lately Show.
    Yet people do frequently talk about who they prefer from leno, conan, letterman ect. Just the other day it came up with a bunch of people.

    These shows are late night pop culture institutions and it’s just a shame we won’t get them.

  40. Jordan July 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm -

    Very thankful for the further justification. Can understand it was a ratings against money of the rights etc especially for three shows. Will be interesting when the dealing are commenced and whether it will put on the table Conan’s show and give a offer of whether it would be worth getting George Lopez’s show as well it is getting moments repeated on free to air more and more.

  41. Benji July 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm -

    I’m glad these are out of the schedule… never watch them as they all represent tired, old-fashioned TV.

  42. moo cow July 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm -

    Did they really have to kill all three at once?

  43. Paul July 7, 2010 at 12:46 pm -

    Well at the least there’s some hope of them showing Conan’s new TBS talk show as the show is on TBS not NBC so it should be cheaper to acquire the rights to plus in the US it’s only going to be on 4 nights a week (Mon to Thurs). If the comedy channel do get the rights to Conan which should rate very well, they should also bring back Jay Leno & Jimmy Fallon or perhaps jimmy kimmel instead of Fallon. From November the comedy channel line up should be – 10.00pm Conan, 10.45 Leno & 11.30 Fallon. Just a thought on why David Letterman was rating poorly maybe it was because the show is also on Channel 10 as well?

  44. Chris July 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm -

    I have no problem with this if they do get Conan’s show. The only good show they dropped was Letterman which is on Ten anyway. I would prefer Conan to be on a channel like Fox 8 though so it can be shown in HD.

  45. Dr. TV July 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm -

    Comedy Channel hasn’t been good for 5 or more years, poor management decisions has cost that station dearly.

  46. Mark July 7, 2010 at 10:26 am -

    David, was there any news from Foxtel about the late nights shows moving to another Foxtel Channel?

  47. Paul July 7, 2010 at 10:19 am -

    Well at least there is some hope on them showing Conan’s new TBS talk show which I think would rate very well. Maybe a reason why David Letterman was rating low, was because maybe he is also on Channel 10 as well? If the comedy channel get the rights to show Conan’s new show (which should be less expensive to acquire the rights to because it’s on TBS not NBC plus it’s only going to be on Mon – Thurs in the US not 5 nights a week) they should bring back Jay Leno & Jimmy Fallon as well & leave out Letterman because he’s ready on Ten.
    From November the comedy channel’s line up should be – 10pm Conan, 10.45 Leno & 11.30pm Fallon.

  48. DansDans July 7, 2010 at 10:14 am -

    Ratings matter on pay TV? Uh-oh…

  49. G.Q Smooth July 7, 2010 at 9:09 am -

    You blogged, We ignored

  50. MK July 7, 2010 at 9:00 am -

    Typical Foxtel being cheap. They only care about shoving as many ads down subscribers’ throats as much as possible and soakin up the profits. They’ve been dirt cheap enough already with all the el cheapo content they show. Now they’re going even further. They are the poorest of excuses for a Pay TV company

  51. Carl W July 7, 2010 at 8:28 am -

    One of the few reasons I even subscribe to anything else other than basic and sport was the Comedy channels commitment to the Late Night shows for such a long time.
    Upon hearing about this news, there is very little on Comedy i would even watch. Im not a huge fan of the 1 millionth rerun of Scrubs or South Park.
    Time to downgrade I think.

  52. Nathan from Extra Source Podcast July 7, 2010 at 8:26 am -

    Dumb excuse! Deserves a place somewhere on Foxtel!

  53. Craig July 7, 2010 at 7:02 am -

    Letterman is a bad example IMO as it’s on FTA and I’d bet most would have watched it there until TCC updated to 16×9 and better picture quality.

    I bet it has more to do with the cost v ratings rather than pure ratings, lets just hope that FTA can pick them up for their digital channels. And they wonder why people go else where to watch then. You can watch most of them on YouTube, Leno can be seen on the NBC site, and it’s not block for local viewers.

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