The political segment “A Closer Look” has pulled in more than 50% of the show’s 530 million YouTube views this year
Seth Meyers, YouTube star?
It might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the “Late Night” host, but Meyers and his NBC production team have been racking up huge views on YouTube. Through early October, the “Late Night” YouTube channel had racked up 529 million views — a jump of more than 115% from the same time last year.
Spurring the big boost has been Meyers’ “A Closer Look” segment, which has accounted for more than 50% of the show’s YouTube views this year. The segment is vintage Meyers, blending political commentary and jokes, of course, in what has become his trademark since his days hosting “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live.”
The success of “A Closer Look” has been evident. So far this year, 18 of the top 20 most-viewed “Late Night” YouTube videos have been “A Closer Look” segments. The “Late Night” staff now rushes to get the segment on YouTube before the show airs. That hustle, combined with the extra attention around the impeachment inquiry, helped push “Late Night” to its second-best week of viewing ever from Sep. 29 to Oct. 5, according to the show’s producers.
In 2019, the no-holds-barred segment has become a “Late Night” staple. Its YouTube views routinely top the nightly viewership the show gets on NBC. One “A Closer Look” last week pulled in nearly 3 million views in its first two days on YouTube. Another segment, focusing on Rudy Giuliani earlier this month, was viewed 4 million times in its first week on YouTube.
On average, “A Closer Look” clips have pulled in 1.8 million YouTube views within roughly 24 hours since July, according to the show’s producers. For comparison, “Late Night” has averaged 1.07 million live and same-day viewers between July and mid-October.
The standard late night celebrity interviews and comedy segments, meanwhile, usually receive a fraction of the views on YouTube that “A Closer Look” receives.
“A Closer Look” follows a familiar pattern: Meyers, for about 10-12 minutes early in the show, offers his take on the latest political news. He looks directly into the camera as if he’s addressing the audience at home. Video clips of politicians talking are quickly weaved in between Meyers’ commentary. An occasional voice impression comes out. And like other late night hosts, his favorite punching bag has become President Donald Trump — and Meyers doesn’t hold back when going after the commander-in-chief.
“They come out of a natural daily exasperation that many of us feel, and they become a 12-minute, ‘Are you f—ing kidding me?'” longtime producer Mike Shoemaker told TheWrap. “They weren’t originally manufactured for online consumption and we continue to be surprised that the longer they are the more people like them.”
Weighing in earlier this month on the impeachment inquiry into the president, Meyers accused Trump of “extortion” and abuse of power in his political maneuverings with Ukraine.
“Again, all of this is confirmed by the call notes themselves,” Meyers said. “We have all the evidence. It’s all there in plain site.”
The “Late Night” team then immediately cut to a clip of President Trump telling the press that Ukraine “should investigate the Bidens.”
“So he just confessed, on TV. After two weeks of lying and spinning, he just admitted to the crime he’s accused of,” Meyers deadpanned. “He basically just blew the whistle on himself.”
The comment drew a swift applause and howls from his New York City audience.
Later, he joked: “Trump’s like a mobster who instead of throwing a body in the trunk, throws it in the passenger seat so he can use the car pool lane.”
And when the president is spared Meyers’ wrath, the focus often moves onto the Republican Party. That’s “A Closer Look” in a nutshell.
What gives? Why are these segments clicking with fans more than anything else?
“The ‘Closer Looks,'” Shoemaker told TheWrap, “resonate online because they are authentic to how we are feeling,”
Authenticity can be tough to come by. Simply throwing a Trump joke out there and expecting it to fly hasn’t always worked for other late night hosts. The Twitter account for Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” was roundly mocked earlier this year after it tweeted a “picture” of President Trump’s State of the Union address, written in crayon and featuring misspelled words.
With the 2020 election inching closer and the impeachment inquiry not fading away, don’t expect Meyers and his team to shy away from his lynchpin segment anytime soon.