Jon Stewart Leaving Comedy Central

Comedian Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show after nearly two decades as the host of late night series.

Comedy Central announced that Stewart's departure will come at the end of the year, leaving a big hole in the network's late night lineup.

Stewart also confirmed his departure during his show Tuesday night, saying the details of his final show have yet to be worked out. "It might be July, September, or December," he said.

Stewart's The Daily Show has become a late-night staple for the network, winning 20 Emmy Awards. It has also spawned several other shows including The Colbert Report, which ended last year after a nine-year run, and The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, which launched last month.

Stewart took over as host of The Daily Show in 1999 from then host Craig Kilborn and built it into Comedy Central's most recognizable show, appealing to mostly young viewers with a comedic and satiric look at the news and issues of the day. During its run, The Daily Show showcased several comedians who have gone on to create higher profiles including Stephen Colbert, who will replace David Letterman on The Late Show this fall, and John Oliver, whose series Last Week Tonight With John Oliver premiered its sophomore season this past Sunday on HBO.

Stewart told NPR in 2014 that he's wrestled with how long to stay with the show, and its unclear what he will do after his The Daily Show run. In 2013 Stewart took an eight-week break to direct a feature fim, Rosewater. "I Got alot of ideas; I lot of things in my head," he said Tuesday night during The Daily Show.

Also unclear is whether The Daily Show will continue without Stewart. What is clear is that Comedy Central and its parent company Viacom will have a very difficult time filling some very large shoes, according to one executive. Viacom's Media Networks unit, which includes Comedy Central along with Nickelodeon and MTV, posted a 1% operating income loss during first quarter earnings reported last month.

"Comedy Central just lost Colbert and now is losing Stewart -- that is alot of talent walking out the door," said the executive.

Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted his disappointment in hearing of Stewart's departure: "So we have to navigate the poop-dipped trainwreck of the 2016 election without Jon Stewart hosting The Daily Show? Hmmm..."

Comedy Central said in a statement: "For the better part of the last two decades, we have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.