‘Late Night’ losing house band amid budget cuts

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NBC’sLate Night with Seth Meyers” will no longer feature a house band on a regular basis due to budget cuts by the network.

“Late Night,” which airs after “The Tonight Show” on most NBC stations, has featured the 8G Band since it launched in 2014.

NBC did renew “Late Night” through 2028 in May 2024, which was seen as a positive sign in an era when networks may be pulling back on overnight programming as their overall and individual show ratings shrink.

CBS recently bid farewell to James Corden on “The Late Late Show” and, instead of replacing him as host, ended the show altogether and replaced it with comedy game show “After Midnight,” which likely has a significantly lower production budget (“After Midnight” was just picked up for a Season 2).

Linear late night shows have seen ratings declines in recent years, just as most other linear programming. In some cases, the shows are able to make up for that, at least in part, thanks to the fact excerpted clips from these shows tend to perform well on social media and digital video platforms.

“Tonight,” which airs right before “Late Night,” is often second to ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in the linear ratings, but host Jimmy Fallon’s antics often get more traction on digital platforms.

Given that late night and overnight hours, almost by definition, tend to grab fewer live viewers than other dayparts, networks are likely to be keeping a careful eye on budgets for these shows as linear ad revenue continues to contract.

The 8G Band, which is named for the show’s studio designator inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, will reportedly stop appearing on “Late Night” starting in the fall of 2024. 

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NBC management was reportedly “adamant” about cutting costs at the show, keyboardist Eli Janney told Vulture. He also noted that the band requires significant support staff who work behind the scenes, so the network stands to save more than just the performers’ pay.

NBC did not provide a comment to Vulture in response to the news.

House bands have been a prominent feature on late night talk shows going back decades. They often perform the show’s opening theme as well as provide backing for in-studio performances, musical games and other segments. Hosts often interact with the band leader as well.

It’s not clear how the elimination of the band will affect the show’s format. It can likely shift to using pre-recorded music for elements such as the open.

It’s not clear if the network might invite the band back for select dates. 

Any live musical performances could potentially bring in their own musicians or rely on recorded backtracks. 

Other musical needs could be filled using other recorded material ranging from custom orchestrations to production music, likely at a fraction of the cost of having a live band in the studio.

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