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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: YouTube Review - Through the 'Reel' Wringer
Engagement = Off to Strong Start41% More Comments/Video Vs. Tonight Show
No Consistent Thumbnail TemplateNon-Optimal CTAs, Annotations, End-Cards
35%Strong Start
Content30%
Optimization40%
Promotion50%
Community20%

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s YouTube channel may be new but it’s already gained enough subscribers and views to qualify for a very special ‘Reel Wringer’ review. At time of shooting the review, the king of late night had only uploaded 3 videos to the channel (he added his 4th, ‘Huge Announcement‘ yesterday), but just a few days after the channel launch, ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had already generated 2.5 million views and 34 thousand subscribers. Which meant that about 1.5% of all viewers became a subscriber. That’s pretty impressive! Especially as the brand-new channel already has around 41% more comments compared to ‘The Tonight Show’.

However, on the video marketing side, there’s a little work to be done here. Yes, it’s Stephen Colbert so viewers are highly likely to tune in, but the channel is up against other news and entertainment channels that feature the TV star, and they are all competing for the same prime YouTube real estate. Video titles, descriptions, tags, annotations, and custom thumbnails all need a little love, and the end-slate is really a missed opportunity to drive viewers to subscribe, and engage with, the content, and the show itself.

‘The late Show with Stephen Colbert’ is off to an incredibly strong start in its first week on YouTube, but it has a way to go to The ‘Tonight Show’. What else can the ‘Late Show’ do to top the ‘Tonight Show‘ on YouTube?. Take a look at the video for clues.

Do you have a brand or creator that you’d like Matt to put through the wringer for next week? Please let us know in the comments below!

Check out the Full Video Transcript

This week we’re taking the brand new Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert YouTube channel,putting it through the wringer and squeezing out all the insights we can find.

Starting with content.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has 3 videos so it may seem silly to review them, bit silly is what this channel is all about as we transition from pseudo serious Stephen to strangely silly Stephen.

One week after launch they have 2.5 million views and 34 thousand subscribers. Which means roughly 1.5% of all viewers became a subscriber. That’s not bad!

The top 3 videos are the only 3 videos and they rank from oldest to newest with the Colbeard accounting for the majority of the viewership in week one.

On the optimization front there’s a little work to be done. The video titles are on the vague side and not very keyword dense , even though they’ll still probably rank well. For example:

Colbert ranks #1 for late show band leader without the word “band” or “leader” anywhere to be found.
However, they start to slip for more general terms like “late show band” and they drop to 5th on searches for jon batiste. Changing the title to “Introducing the late show band leader Jon Batiste” would easily give this video the Colbert bump on both search terms.

Descriptions look good. Subscribe link right up top, pile of miscellaneous links. Maybe just add an http:// to the all access link if you want people to access it.

The videos all have a fair amount of tags, but they’re kind of all over the place. Starting with the wrong host and show, show names that aren’t Late Show, some david letterman memorial tags, some tags that Jimmy Fallon uses, 1860s composer of I heard the bells on Christmas Day John Baptiste Calkin, actual band leader Jon Batiste,
and a pair of stevens.

On the thumbnail side, they all include Stephen Colbert which is good, but they’re don’t have a consistent thumbnail template like the Tonight Show just yet.

The end card, beside being mildly disturbing, could use some attention as well.

Starting with the main call to action being the premiere date. That’s not terrible, but it could be a link to add to your calendar or something more interactive seeing as how much of the YouTube audience is watching less TV and might not even know what channel CBS is.

CBS. Probably 4?

They also have an afterthought subscribe annotation in the corner. Nobody puts subscribe links in the corner! Generally speaking note annotations have some of the lowest clickthrough rates.

They could grow their subscriber base faster by using a spotlight annotation combined with a more prominent button. Want to get even nuttier with click conversions then put the button it Stephen’s eye line and watch the subscribers roll in.

Another idea would be to use Stephen’s white board as an end card since it could have handwritten buttons and post-it notes that match the channel’s theme.

On the community side, engagement is off to a strong start with over 2 thousand comments averaging 747 comments per video. That’s 41% more than The Tonight Show!

The most commented on video is the Colbeard but like the Tonight Show, The Late Show isn’t responding to comments. This could be a big differentiator for the Late show. But instead of having Stephen or The Late Show respond I think they should create what I’m now calling
Comment characters. These are profiles related to the show that live in the YouTube comments section and interact with viewers and even each other.
Characters like the beard dog, the Colbeard, Stephen Clonebear, Band leader jon batiste who only responds with “Yeah!”, or even bring composer John Baptiste Calkin into the mix.

The late show with Stephen Colbert is off to a strong start in its first week, but they have their work cut out for them if they want to catch up to The Tonight Show. If you work for the Late Show or know someone who does, get it touch because I’d like to help.

What else can the late show do to top the Tonight show on YouTube? Let me know in the comments and we’ll highlight the best ones in next week’s video. Speaking of…

We got some great comments and feedback on last week’s review including this one from David scarpitta saying that it’s not fair to compare The Tonight Show with smaller channels since they
have far more resources and exposure from being on TV
and that they’re not successful because of their YouTube strategy, but
because of their content.

Thanks for the comment David! I don’t disagree, but I do believe that small and large channels can learn from how well The Tonight Show is using the YouTube platform. That’s why they have 28 times the subscribers as the Late Show with David Letterman.

So..what should we review next? I’ll be in the comments below if you need me.