The CBS network has announced that Stephen Colbert replaces David Letterman as host of The Late Show when Letterman retires in 2015. Colbert currently hosts The Colbert Report, which appears on weeknights, where he sarcastically parodies the role of a self-righteous, dim-witted, conservative pundit. The terms of the agreement extend to five years, but financial details have not been disclosed.
There have been no details about the format of the show with Colbert, nor has there yet been any decision as to whether it will still be based in New York. However, Stephen Colbert has said that the Comedy Central persona will not be included in the late show. The persona became popular, as a cast member of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The Colbert Report won an Emmy award after its debut in October of 2005 and the young male demographic which it has attracted, is a group from which CBS hopes to benefit. The announcement of Stephen Colbert’s move to CBS, adds more fuel to the transformation of the late-night landscape, as the networks attempt to attract a younger audience.
Colbert’s audience is less than half that of Letterman’s, with an average age of 42, which is 16 years younger than that of David Letterman’s Late show, and according to reports from the tracking firm Kantar Media, sales for ads on the Colbert Report increased slightly while ad revenue from Letterman’s Late Show declined in 2013.
Letterman announced his retirement from late-night television when his CBS contract expires next year. He began hosting the Late Show on CBS in 1993, after hosting NBC’s Late Night program for 11 years and there as been no indication of how long the Colbert move has been in progress.
Leslie Moonves, CBS Chief Executive, and others executives at CBS, were disturbed at the messy transformation of the late-night landscapes, and because of the respect for David Letterman, there was no mention or indication of any activity, but the scheme may have been proposed before Letterman announced his retirement.
Perhaps a strong clue that Colbert would replace Letterman came when the contracts with Comedy Central of both Stewart and Colbert were renewed in 2012. Stewart signed a contract for three years, while Colbert’s deal extended only to the end of 2014, and he is expected to continue with the Colbert Report before moving to CBS with the Late Show. Letterman has praise for Colbert whom he describes a real friend.
Colbert has carved his own niche by satirizing political issues with his self-described “fool” persona, which has become a favorite of liberals in the US. Along with Jon Stewart, the duo has become recognized as a news source among younger people as they have often interviewed media personalities and politicians.
The decision to replace Letterman with Stephen Colbert is seen as radical, because, Colbert has never appeared on an hour-long show, five nights a week, other than being in-character, but at the same time he has said that the character will not be included, so it remains to be seen what he will bring to late night.
By Dale Davidson