It’s like late night television musical chairs.
We’ve said goodbye to Leno for the second, and probably last time. Fallon moves up an hour and brings The Tonight Show back to NYC, and is kicking off his first week with a veritable parade of major celebrity guests including U2, Lady Gaga and Jerry Seinfeld. Seth Meyers steps in as the new host of Late Night. Last year, we determined that an appearance on Conan was the most socially impactful for artists, but with all these changes afoot, it is time to revisit this assessment. Does Conan still offer the biggest bump for artists, or has the landscape shifted?
Last year we found that David Letterman came in a close second to Conan O’Brien, and the two are still in tight competition. The typical (or median) percentage increase in new Twitter followers for acts that appear on Conan is 30%, slightly higher than the 25% for those that appear on Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman takes the lead in Facebook page likes and Wikipedia page views, with artists typical seeing an increase of 30% and 66% respectively – artists on Conan saw a lift of 20% and 59% – however, Conan generally played host to artists with a larger online fan base than Letterman, and the bump in social for an artist with a higher baseline for fan engagement, is more likely to be lost in overall daily activity.
Not surprisingly, smaller artists have more to gain socially from a late night television appearance, or at least, the impact is more noticeable. Fan bases amass according to the rule of proportionate growth, meaning that larger artists might gain more new Twitter followers the next day in total, but the relative gain would be bigger for the smaller artists. If Justin Bieber gets 500 new Twitter followers because he appeared on Letterman, this is only a small fraction of the 20,000 Twitter followers he typically gets on a daily basis, and falls well within the noise of daily fluctuations in gains. But if a relatively unknown band like Houndmouth gain 60 new followers after an appearance, this is a big increase compared to an average of seven new followers daily.
A significant increase in impact for artists that have appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! would suggest that also the time slot makes a difference. Kimmel, who moved up an hour last year, has seen a significant increase in the social impact for artists across metrics, even with bigger artists performing on the show. In 2012, artists would typically see a 7% increase in Facebook page likes the day after a performance, last year that number jumped to 19%. A 38% increase in Wikipedia page views is now 47% (a lift that should also be put into context with the fact that Next Big Sound tracked a 20% decrease in overall Wikipedia traffic to artists last year), and the impact on new Twitter followers near doubled from 15% to 29%. Artists performing on Kimmel also saw the impact on Twitter mentions increase from a 100% lift, to a 108% lift, the latter being the largest impact across all comparable late night shows.
And what about NBC’s choice to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon? Social data implies they made the right call. Even at the later time slot and with lower ratings, artists appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon typically saw a higher impact across networks than those appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Artists on Leno typically saw a 8% increase in new Facebook page likes, and 15% on Fallon, and the increase in new Twitter followers was almost twice as big on Fallon at 24% over 14% on Leno. Artists saw a significant bump with a 52% increase in Twitter mentions for appearing on the Leno-hosted Tonight Show, but saw a much higher lift when appearing on Fallon, at 82%. What is more, given the heavy focus on music and the trump card – Fallon’s seasoned and reputable house band The Roots, artists appearing on Late Night in the past year have typically had a bigger fan base than those on The Tonight Show.
It is reasonable to assume that as Jimmy Fallon gets comfortable behind his new desk, an appearance here will be the most coveted and beneficial for artists of all sizes, at the very least socially speaking.
Photo Credit: Screen cast of the The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon/NBC
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Liv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, Forbes, Billboard, Hypebot and more.
Research contributed by Adam Hajari, data scientist at music analytics company Next Big Sound. Hajari received his Doctorate in Physics from Washington University in Saint Louis and has a part-time career playing the banjo.