With Conan O’Brien about to change the calculus of late-night cable programming, the Comedy Central channel has made a move to lock up its two dominant stars, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
The network has signed the two hosts – who both attract more young viewers than even the late-night shows on the broadcast networks – to new contracts that will keep them in the 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. weeknight slots through the next presidential election in 2012.
“That’s a big deal for us,” said Doug Herzog, the president of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, which includes Comedy Central. “For us, election years are like Olympic years.” The two politically oriented comedy shows hosted by the two stars – “The Daily Show” with Mr. Stewart and “The Colbert Report” with Mr. Colbert – have both seen big ratings bumps in presidential election years, Mr. Herzog said, “and some of that carries over each time, so we keep going up.”
The timing of the new deal was not directly related to the impending arrival next November of Mr. O’Brien, the former NBC late-night star, on the cable channel TBS; but Mr. Herzog noted that his comedy channel could hardly be unaware of it.
“We’re big admirers of Conan here,” he said. And the network did have some preliminary talks with Mr. O’Brien’s representatives when he settled his NBC contract – but not about a late-night slot, Mr. Herzog said. “We’ve got Jon and Stephen. Our late-night is filled already.”[...]
To that end, Mr. Herzog said he would have liked to sign up his two biggest stars for even longer terms. Under the new deals – financial terms were not disclosed – Mr. Colbert is locked into Comedy Central until December 31, 2012, and Mr. Stewart a half-year longer.
“Of course we’d like to sign them for more years,” Mr. Herzog said. “They are still growing. They are still fresh and relevant and sharp.”[...]
“I think Jon and Stephen have made cable safe for somebody like Conan,” he said. “I think it’s O.K. now for Conan to leave network television for cable because that’s where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert live. And guess what? They’re doing pretty well.”
Though he would not discuss salaries, Mr. Herzog said, “They are paid handsomely and there isn’t anything they haven’t accomplished, or can’t accomplish, from behind the desks at Comedy Central, from being on every magazine cover imaginable, to – in Jon’s case – hosting the Oscars.”
He added, “I’m not sure what else is left? Well, beating Conan.”
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Comedy Central extends late night!
Just about one week after TBS announced that they signed Conan O'Brien to a long term deal, Comedy Central announced that their late night stars, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have extended their contracts to late 2012/early 2013.