EXCLUSIVE: After four seasons, 600 shows and two Emmy Awards, @midnight With Chris Hardwick will be coming to an end. Hardwick just broke the news to his staff.
@midnight’s final week will kick off July 31, culminating with the series finale on Friday, August 4 when the show will hit the 600-episode milestone.
The decision to end @midnight was made mutually by Comedy Central, host/executive producer Hardwick and production company Funny Or Die. “We took a big macro look and we started having conversations with Chris,” Comedy Central president Kent Alterman said in an interview with Deadline. “We feel incredibly proud of the show, we think it’s had an amazing run. How many shows can say that they’d hit 600 episodes? It was a little bit of the audience telling us over time, and we mutually thought, ‘You know what, maybe we should walk away holding our heads high and proud, full of appreciation and gratitude’.”
What Alterman is likely referring to is the fact that, after a ratings bump following @midnight‘s move from 12 AM to 11:30 PM last August, the show’s numbers have plateaued, while its lead-in, The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, has been trending up. But @midnight has been pretty consistent, averaging between 400,000-490,000 total viewers and between 250,000-300,000 adults 18-49 in each quarter the past two years. Additionally, @midnight has been the youngest and most male-skewing late-night show for most of its run, currently ranking second in lowest median age only behind Viceland newcomer Desus & Mero.
There are no immediate plans for a new Comedy Central weeknight show to air at 12 AM, though I hear that if renewed beyond Labor Day, The President Show, which currently airs at 11:30 PM Thursday, would be a contender for the midnight spot once a week after the Daily Show spin-off starring Jordan Klepper launches in the fall, taking over the 11:30 PM time period Monday-Thursday.
Hardwick indicated he and his fellow @midnight producers felt it was time for the show to end.
“@midnight has meant the world to me these last four years,” he said in a statement to Deadline. “It has been a dream to come to work 600 times to make inappropriate jokes about the Internet with my fellow comedian friends. I could not be more proud of this show, staff and crew and at the end of the day, I think we accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish. Spiritually it just feels like it ran its course — I’m not sure we had many more hashtag games in us (which may actually be a relief to anyone whose Twitter feed gets overrun every night).
“I owe such a huge debt of gratitude to Comedy Central and Kent for taking a chance on the show, always being great partners and allowing us to exit mutually, which is rarely a gift you are given in this business. I will certainly miss awarding POINTS! to people nightly, so please understand if you see me randomly shouting it at strangers in public after August 4th.”
While @midnight in its current incarnation is over, I hear that there has been talk about taking another look at the concept in the fall and exploring possibilities for reformatting it.
Comedy Central’s late-night lineup was very different when @midnight launched in October 2013 with a four-week trial run behind the network’s hugely popular duo of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. After a strong start, excelling in Comedy Central’s target young and male demos, @midnight quickly scored a 40-week renewal, which was followed by several others, most recently a Season 4 pickup last October.
“That is the greatest testament to Chris, Funny or Die, (exec producers) Tom Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, the creative team behind the show — they were able to make social media and the comings and goings of the Internet on a daily basis such an integral, essential part of the show in a very organic way, and I think that’s what really catalyzed the show so quickly out of the gate,” Alterman said. “Out of the gate, the hashtag wars started trending and they never abated.”
Since @midnight‘s 2013 debut, Colbert Report ended, replaced by The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and then Stewart was succeeded by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Last August, The Nightly Show was canceled after a year and a half, with @midnight moving temporarily to the 11:30 PM, post-Daily Show time slot in the final stages on the presidential campaign.
During election week, @midnight, which aired a live show on election night, drew its largest adults 18-49 ratings since the final week of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in August 2015. Additionally, in the months leading to the election, @midnight delivered some of its most viral segments, led by the Donald Trump-Bernie Sanders debate, which has amassed 7.7 million views on YouTube. Anthony Atamanuik, who portrayed Trump, went on to score a late-night Comedy Central series built around his impersonation, The President Show.
In April, Comedy Central named a permanent Nightly Show replacement, a Daily Show spinoff headlined by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah‘s Jordan Klepper. Alterman stressed that the pickup of the Klepper-fronted series and the decision to end @midnight were not related.
“It wasn’t either or between Jordan Klepper and @midnight,” Alterman said. “We always knew that we would be developing for 11:30; we knew it was possible that @midnight could evolve to that or not, we were keeping all options open, and at some point we got excited about spinning off Jordan Klepper for a companion to The Daily Show. (@midnight) was an independent, separate conversation. It could’ve moved back to the midnight slot.”
As for the future of original series in the midnight time period, “We haven’t made any steadfast decisions about the time slot itself,” Alterman said. “We are really focused on rebuilding 11:30 with Jordan Klepper and we will take it as it comes. It’s not a given that this is real estate we will be spending resources on, but if and when we feel that it will be resources well spent, we like its potential, it’s a opportunity down the road.”
As I noted earlier, sources indicate that, if renewed, The President Show would be a strong candidate to take over the midnight spot once a week, possibly on Thursday, the night it currently airs on at 11:30 PM.
Over its run, @midnight has earned four Primetime Emmy nominations, winning twice for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Social TV Experience.
“Funny Or Die is so proud of the 600 episodes of @midnight produced over the past four years,” said FoD CEO Mike Farah and executive producer Joe Farrell. “Behind all the hashtags, puns and Points, @midnight launched talent, won two Emmys, trended on Twitter every night and changed what it means to have an interactive show on television. We sincerely thank Comedy Central, Chris Hardwick, Tom Lennon, Ben Garant, Jack Martin, Joe Randazzo, Bellamie Blackstone, our partners at Serious Business and Brillstein for a truly incredible run.”
Hardwick executive produces @midnight with Lennon and Garant; Farah and Farrell for Funny Or Die; Alex Blagg, Jason Nadler and Jon Zimelis of Serious Business; showrunner Jack Martin; and Alex Murray of Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
“We thank Chris, Tom Lennon, Ben Garant, and our partners at Funny Or Die, Serious Business and Brillstein Entertainment Partners for an incredible four seasons and 600 episodes of one of the best showcases for comedians on TV,” Comedy Central said in a statement.
Even without @midnight, Hardwick already has a full plate. He is the Founder, CEO, and creative head of Nerdist, which encompasses the Nerdist.com website, YouTube channel, and a podcast network of over 49 shows. He continues to host his weekly Nerdist podcast, which garners over 5.5M downloads per month. Under his multi-year deal with AMC, Hardwick hosts and executive produces the Talking talk show franchise, which includes Talking Dead, Talking Dead: Fear Edition, Talking Saul, Talking Preacher, and Talking with Chris Hardwick. He also has a first-look deal with AMC Studios for his production company Fish Ladder.
At NBC, Hardwick hosts and executive produces game show series The Wall, now in its second season, as well as The Awesome Show, which is in development.
As a partner at Puny Entertainment, Hardwick also executive produces the Amazon children’s series Danger & Eggs and he recently launched his first-ever ID10T Music Festival and Comic Conival. Right now, Hardwick is heading to Comic-Con where he again will have a packed slate, moderating some of the biggest panels.
“I’m still not convinced he is human; I think it’s possible that he is cyborg,” Alterman quipped about Hardwick.” The bandwidth that man has to take on so much and be so effective is mind-blowing.”