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Television is in a battle to stay relevant with a younger generation, and one of the ways it’s planning on doing that is video games.
CBS’s premiere late-night talk show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, announced its guest list for next week will include two huge names in the world of gaming. On Thursday, in addition to traditional stars like actor Claire Danes, Colbert will welcome YouTube personality PewDiePie to give a “demonstration.” Then, on Friday, following Morgan Freeman, Hello Games founder Sean Murray will appear on Colbert’s show to talk about the universe-exploring game No Man’s Sky. This appears like The Late Show’s attempt to establish early on that it is for a younger, hipper audience.
The average gamer is around 35 years old, according to a 2015 report from industry-advocacy group the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). And that number is down from 37 years old just a few years ago. This puts the gaming audience in that prime marketing demographic between 18-and-45 years old — and PewDiePie’s fans are probably even younger.
Colbert is still in the early days of hosting The Late Show, his version of the interview and comedy program debuted September 8. The show is looking to use games as a way to reach a new audience, and the two guests it booked make a whole lot of sense. PewDiePie is an enormous star. He has more subscribers than anyone else on YouTube, and he reportedly made millions of dollars last year thanks to the popularity of the videos he posts where he plays games and makes squawking noises like a dying ostrich.
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Murray, meanwhile, is on the other end of the spectrum. He isn’t a celebrity, but his studio is responsible for one of the most ambitious and anticipated games in the world. No Man’s Sky empowers players to explore planets throughout the universe. How many planets? Hello Games claims it will include 18,446,744,073,709,551,616. If that numbers sounds too large for reality, you can see why so many people are interested in finally playing it.
Colbert is likely embracing gaming because it is such an enormous hobby for younger people, but we can also point to more concrete examples of why he’s bringing on PewDiePie and No Man’s Sky.
First, Colbert and much of his staff (who came with him from his Comedy Central show) saw the huge audience it drew when the host interviewed the gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian. She went on to the show to explain the hatred and attacks she and people like her receive on a daily basis.
Second, Jimmy Kimmel — a Colbert competitor — recently went head-to-head with some of the more unsavory parts of the gaming community earlier this month. The host of Jimmy Kimmel Live did a rather tame segment poking fun at people who watch other people play games on the newly launched YouTube Gaming. That led to a torrent of (surprise!) hatred and attacks for Kimmel in the comments section of his YouTube account, which led to recurring bit where he would delightfully read the horrifying insults gamers would send him.
Colbert may try to counterprogram against Kimmel by embracing gaming without the scorn — or maybe he is planning to have PewDiePie on to make fun of him. Either way, late-night television has fully acknowledged the power of gamers.
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