In cable's latest key late-night talent deal, Comedy Central said it has reached contract extensions with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to keep them as show hosts through the 2012 elections.
Stewart's contract extension keeps him at the helm of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart through June 2013. He continues as executive producer, writer and host.
Colbert's extension will keep him and The Colbert Report at the all-comedy channel through the end of 2012. Colbert, too, wears executive producer, writer and host hats.
Stewart has helmed The Daily Show since Jan. 11, 1999. Colbert's show, which spun the former Daily Show correspondent into his own orbit, launched in 2005. Both have won Emmy and Peabody awards.
Cable networks' claim on viewers after 11 p.m. begins with these two Comedy Central shows, the first a nightly news parody and the second an interview and commentary show filled with "truthiness." The Daily Show is cable's top-performing original show between 11 p.m. and midnight, averaging 1.4 million total viewers and 866,000 viewers in the 18-to-49 age bracket, according to Nielsen first-quarter ratings.
That landscape will change in November when a new program from Conan O'Brien joins the TBS schedule at 11 p.m., bumping George Lopez's show to midnight.
MTV Entertainment Groups president Doug Herzog, told The New York Times it was crucial to keep the two stars through the 2012 presidential elections. He said Comedy Central had some initial talks with O'Brien after he separated from NBC, but not for a late-night show.
"We feel very good about where we are," Herzog told The Times. "Jon and Stephen have established themselves not only on the cable landscape but also on the cultural landscape. I think of myself as the manager of the '61 Yankees. I just wanted to keep writing Mantle and Maris into the lineup as many seasons as I can."
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