8:58am PT by Hilary Lewis
Johnny Carson-Hosted 'Tonight Show' Returning to Late Night
The late-night TV landscape is about to get even more competitive, thanks to Johnny Carson.
Reruns of the Carson-hosted Tonight Show are set to air on Antenna TV, Tribune Broadcasting's retro-themed channel, at 11 p.m. every weeknight starting Jan 1.
The reruns will air opposite TBS' Conan; Comedy Central's new Trevor Noah-hosted Daily Show and The Nightly Show; and the first half hours of 11:30 p.m. broadcast late-night shows Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and NBC's own Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Starting in January, fans of the Carson-hosted Tonight Show will have another option to select from at 11 p.m. on weeknights. The multiyear pact between Tribune Broadcasting and Carson Entertainment Group marks the first time full episodes of the Carson-hosted Tonight Show will air on TV nightly since he left the show in 1992. On weekends, Antenna will run 90-minute episodes of the Carson-hosted Tonight Show at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with a rebroadcast at 1:30 a.m. ET/10:30 p.m. PT.
Antenna TV airs in 102 markets across the U.S., including all of the top 20 markets, reaching 78 percent of all television households. Carson, who died on Jan. 23, 2005, is still TV's most popular late-night talk show host according to a 2015 Quinnipiac University poll, cited by Antenna in Wednesday's announcement.
"Johnny Carson was America’s night light for 30 years. The mantra of 'We’ll watch the monologue and go the bed' was the norm for millions of fans," Carson Entertainment president Jeff Sotzing said in a statement. "The idea of running the show at the same time every night on Antenna TV will provide viewers with a feel for how the show was viewed originally. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to relive this wonderful piece of American history."
Tribune Media president, strategic programming and acquisitions, Sean Compton added: "During his Nebraskan boyhood, Johnny Carson dreamed of becoming a world-famous magician, and few would disagree that his three decade dominance of late-night television was anything short of magical. Along the way he pioneered the conversational presentation and generative comedic content that continues to inspire talent and entertainment programming to this very day. Thirty years later, Carson’s comedy and humor are just as relevant. We are thrilled to have acquired these programs to entertain existing fans and attract future followers."