Once upon a time, late night TV success was measured in ratings and interview coups, with titans of talk battling it out to see who’d come out on top in the war for the almighty Nielsen (Spoiler alert: It was usually Jay Leno.) But no longer: now, it’s all about social media presence and viral videos, with hosts living and dying by their Twitter follower count. Or, as it happens, their YouTube viewership, which serves as an easy metric of a show’s online reach. Now, one of late night’s newest competitors has passed a major milestone in the battle for hearts, minds, and flagging attention spans, with James Corden’s The Late Late Show surpassing 1 billion views on the Google-owned video hosting site.
Although he’s only been on the air since 2015, Corden has quickly garnered a reputation as a man who knows what the smartphone and streaming set likes (which is to say, celebrities singing from within the confines of cars). According to YouTube, his Carpool Karaoke video with Adele is the most-watched late night clip ever (with the Justin Bieber one in second place).
But while The Late Late Show’s billion is impressive, Corden still has a ways to climb if he wants to match Jimmys Kimmel (3 billion) and Fallon (5 billion) at the heights of late night viral fame. On the other hand, he’s already surpassed his lead-in, Stephen Colbert, who’s currently floating at about 350 million views on his channel. To be fair, though, Colbert—and Corden’s direct competitor, NBC’s Seth Meyers (150 million)—are at a disadvantage in this numbers game. Both hosts started their social media presences from scratch when their shows began, instead of inheriting them from older hosts the way Fallon and Corden were able to when Leno and Craig Ferguson stepped down, respectively. (Kimmel, meanwhile—who’s now network late night’s longest-standing host—has just been doing this for more than a decade, and shows no sign of stopping his cavalcade of celebrities reading mean tweets now.)