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Insider September 30, 2022 — Trevor Noah and the decline of late-night TV

Plus, layoffs at Spotify

As someone who stayed up late on school nights to watch The Daily Show and carried America: The Book around in my backpack to show my friends (I was very cool, okay!!), the deconstruction of late-night comedy is hard to watch. It’s not dead! It’s just changing. But still, woof. 

Trevor Noah is leaving The Daily Show

Noah issued the surprise announcement last night that he will be departing The Daily Show. “After seven years, I feel like it’s time,” he said. “I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road — you know, stand-up was done — and when I got back out there again, I realized there’s another part of my life I want to carry on exploring. I miss just being everywhere and doing everything.”

His decision, I think, speaks to the waning influence of late-night comedy (in the traditional sense). As host, Noah has effectively made the storied cable program clippable for social and even turned it into a highly ranked podcast (it’s currently number 117 on Apple Podcasts). The show is adapting beyond cable, but to his point above, the greener pastures lie beyond TV. For Noah, I would not be surprised if one of those pastures is a podcast.

Noah is the latest late-night pillar to fall after Conan O’Brien ended his show in 2021, Samantha Bee’s show got canceled in June, Desus and Mero’s show imploded in July, and James Corden announced plans to leave The Late Late Show next year (okay, not exactly mourning that last one). Meanwhile, streamers’ attempts at launching their own late night-style talk shows have failed over and over again. Even Jon Stewart’s new show for Apple TV Plus is reportedly doing poor numbers

But TV’s loss is podcasting’s gain. Hosts like Marc Maron and Joe Rogan established podcasting as a space for comedy interview shows, and legacy hosts are following suit. O’Brien has gone headlong into podcasting, selling his production outfit, Team Coco, to SiriusXM in May for $93 million. Even as Stewart’s TV series fails to make a splash, his podcast is doing great (it’s currently in the top 100 shows on Spotify and Apple Podcasts). Noah had a Luminary show that ended in 2020, in addition to The Daily Show’s podcasts. Once he is a free agent, I bet studios will be fighting over him for a podcast deal.

This is something I want to get into at Hot Pod Summit with Team Coco, but it seems like late night’s shift from TV to podcasting is escalating. Late-night TV in the traditional sense isn’t dead — Colbert and Kimmel aren’t going anywhere — but innovation of the form is happening in the audio rather than on TV.

Podtrac has suspended its weekly podcast rankings

InsideRadio reports that Podtrac has suspended its weekly data newsletter after iHeartMedia stopped sponsoring the report. iHeart decided to stop sponsoring the report over a month ago, according to Angel Aristone, a spokesperson for the company. When I took a look at my inbox, the last data tracker I received was on September 13th, though the last issue that featured iHeart branding was on August 15th. Though Podtrac is best known for its monthly publisher and show rankings, the weekly report provided overall download data, as well as growth by individual genres. Podtrac did not respond to a request for comment.

Spotify reportedly lays off five people from its podcasting department

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Spotify cut five positions from its podcast editorial team. The people who were laid off worked on promoting Spotify’s podcasts and managed a Discord channel (I did not know they had a Discord channel!). Spotify declined to comment. 

Hot Pod Summit lottery is still open

Quick reminder: Tuesday, October 4th, is the last day to put your name in the lottery for an invitation to Hot Pod Summit LA. The event is coming up soon, and I’m excited to see you all there.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend.