With every aspect of television rapidly evolving, there probably isn’t an area that has undergone more sweeping changes in the past couple of years than late night. A slew of new shows cropped up across the dial, and the networks with the longest traditions in the day part, NBC and CBS, both changed the hosts of their late-night franchises. That big changeover could shake up the Outstanding Variety Series Emmy category, which has long been dominated by late-night shows. The field finally got a jolt last year, with The Colbert Report taking the Emmy after a 10-year winning streak for The Daily Show that followed five consecutive wins by Late Show with David Letterman.
There were a handful of major late-night changes and new additions in the 1990s and the 2000s. The first botched Tonight Show transition in 1992, which installed Jay Leno as successor to Johnny Carson, led to CBS breaking NBC’s late-night monopoly with Letterman and the introduction of Conan O’Brien. They were followed by the launch of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. The following decade saw the arrival of Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Chelsea Lately on E! and another messy Tonight Show transition at NBC, resulting in the launch of O’Brien’s Conan on TBS and the emergence of Jimmy Fallon.