There’s a plague seeping over America — well-dressed, carefully coiffed men (and one woman) are throttling the late-night airwaves, mugging for laughs and sitting across the table from stars shamelessly promoting their upcoming offerings. It’s the late night talk show host: There are too many of them, and their adherence to an antiquated model is sinking this mini-industry.

Here’s the list of the current slate of hosts: David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Chelsea Handler, Bill Maher and, quite inexplicably, Carson Daly (if a tree falls on the set of his show, does it make a sound?).

Before delving further, full disclosure: At the time of writing this article, I’m pursuing a job at NBCUniversal. Now back to our regularly scheduled postulating.

The needless glut of late-night talk shows became apparent during the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno “Tonight Show” hoopla in 2010, aptly called “The War For Late Night” by New York Times reporter Bill Carter. The groundswell of “Team Coco” support was surprising and inspiring — galvanized by social media outlets — but the movement and its fallout shone a light on the late-night talk show medium and called its relevance into question.

“Conan” on TBS predictably shot off with four million viewers for its premiere last year, before settling into an average of nearly two million viewers for its second week. But Team Coco has lost far too many members, averaging less than a million viewers in the past year.

Where did all the viewers go? The ones that flocked to Conan’s sold-out tour last summer, the ones that changed their Facebook pictures to the Conan-as-Obama illustration? Though the passion of our generation fueled Conan’s second chance, our viewing habits don’t fit the old-school talk show model.

It’s a model that far too many programs submit to — of those programs listed, six (Leno, Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel, Conan and Ferguson) follow an identical format: Open with a monologue riffing on current events, follow with a rotating comedy bit (Letterman’s daily top 10 list, Leno’s “Headlines”), bring in Celebrity A, bring in lesser-known Celebrity B and close with a musical performance or comedy act. The model was built in the past, and it’s clearly not working in the present.

A breakthrough moment to prove the model’s creakiness occurred on February 21 when NBA star Carmelo Anthony appeared on “Conan.” Landing Anthony was a huge coup for the show — Carmelo was in blistering trade discussions and the interview was a perfect opportunity for Conan to probe him for nuggets of information about which team he was going to join. Problem is, talk shows almost always tape in the afternoon and are played at night. By the time the interview aired at 11 p.m., it had been announced that Carmelo would be joining the New York Knicks, so seeing him play coy with Conan was an incredibly bizarre and pointless 10 minutes.

The late-night savior is then Jimmy Fallon, who has built an idyllic home in this new-media world (with the help of the best band in late night, The Roots). His rotating comedy bits are unabashedly idiotic (“Wheel of Carpet Samples,” “Lick it for Ten”), alongside a weekly hashtag game and parody clips like “6-bee” and “Jersey Floor” that are perfectly tuned for viral consumption.

Fallon further breaks ground with his requisite celebrity interviews — this is the age of Twitter and YouTube, where celebrity underexposure is a paradox, and Fallon has adapted accordingly. He takes it to the next level, engaging his guests with games — like beer pong with Helen Mirren and “shoe golf” with Taraji P. Henson — and other shenanigans (see: “A History of Rap”with Justin Timberlake), unveiling the sparsely seen goofy natures of our favorite celebrities.

Conan had the chance to revitalize and redefine the talk show, much like Jimmy Fallon, his “Late Night” successor, is doing. Why has Conan become so averse to risk? This is the man that kept talk shows relevant for the past two decades with creations like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. It’s not too late for him to reassemble Team Coco and build his audience back — and if the rest of the industry wants to survive, Team Kimmel, Team Ferguson and the rest will have to start their recruitment process.

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