It used to be enough for late-night segments to go viral. But thanks to the wildly successful Lip Sync Battle, which spawned from a Late Night With Jimmy Fallon sketch, networks are now depending on these sketches to be the launching pad for new stand-alone series. It’s easy to see the appeal: LSB was recently renewed for a third season after breaking Spike TV’s ratings record with 4.7 million viewers for its Jan. 7 episode, which featured Channing Tatum and a cameo by Beyoncé. “You’re seeing lots of different successful segments that travel beyond the show [they originated on],” LSB’s executive producer Casey Patterson tells EW.
Speaking to LSB‘s success — which just announced a spin-off with Lip Sync Battle Jr. — Patterson credits the series’ reach to a number of things, one of which being the “celebrity culture” that social media has created. “[It’s] getting to see your favorite movie stars do something that isn’t as controlled as what we’re used to,” she says. “[Celebrities are] being much more open and playful and vulnerable versus packaged up and controlled through third parties or publicists or any sort of machinery that gets between them and their fans.”
But more than anything, Patterson feels the show’s been a success because it’s been able to maintain the spirit of what Fallon originally created on late-night, something she thinks is key to every adaptation. “It very much feels like it’s done in [Fallon’s] spirit,” Patterson says. “It’s very much in keeping with his brand and I think as [writers] develop shows out of late-night, it’s very important that [they] feel like the hero [to audiences]. That’s what makes these things different; the DNA of a Fallon or a Kimmel or an Ellen, whomever we’re talking about. That’s the most important thing that you look for that brand of humor — does it translate? Can we get the spirit of that through in a half-hour format?”
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And it seems more shows are going to find out just how well their late-night segments will translate. The Jimmy Kimmel Live! segment “Who Knows?” — in which fans try to prove more knowledgeable about their favorite celebrity than said celebrity — is being developed into the ABC series Big Fan. And Spike is prepping Caraoke Showdown, which is not affiliated with The Late Late Show With James Corden’s buzzy “Carpool Karaoke” but follows a similar formula.
“It’s a new way to do interviews,” Patterson says. “It’s the comedy variety elements that are so winning that all the late-night shows are mining. Those are the bits that are going viral and redefining late-night, so everybody tends to be reacting to those things right now.”
At this point, creating buzzy segments with the potential of becoming something more feels like less of a suggestion for late night writers and more of a mandate. “You’re seeing lots of different successful segments that travel beyond the show, which is how it has to work in the new world,” she continues. “You need to be pushing content out from these home base shows that have a life beyond the time slot on television.”
And as more and more shows work toward what Lip Sync Battle has achieved, we only have one request: Can Fallon’s “Water War” be next?