EXCLUSIVE: The current late-night king, Stephen Colbert, will remain at The Late Show through the 2020 election and beyond. CBS has reached a contract extension with the comedian to continue as host of its top-rated The Late Show with Stephen Colbert through August 2023.
Colbert, who succeeded David Letterman as host of The Late Show, made his debut on September 8, 2015, and originally was signed through August 2020. The extension will bring his Late Show tenure to eight years.
CBS’ new deal with Colbert joins the recent contract extension with The Late Late Show host James Corden as the network has secured its late-night lineup for the next few years. (Corden is signed through August 2022.)
The network started negotiations with Colbert over the summer, just before he was to enter the final year of his original contract. I hear Colbert has secured a substantial salary bump, which is not surprising given his current status as host of the highest-rated and most-watched program in late-night.
After a bumpy start, lagging behind NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Colbert hit his stride in 2016 when Chris Licht joined The Late Show as executive producer and Donald Trump emerged as a strong presidential candidate, becoming one of Colbert’s top targets.
Colbert’s sharp political humor, which he had honed in during his tenure at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, has helped him flourish during the Trump presidency. In May, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert logged its third consecutive late-night season win in total viewers, averaging 3.82 million viewers in Live+7, with the largest margin of victory for CBS (1.38 million) in 25 years, since 1993-94. Additionally, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert landed its first victory over The Tonight Show, finishing as No.1 for the season in the demo, ahead of its NBC rival by 20,000 viewers in L+7.
So far this fall, The Late Show, which often features news-making interviews with top politicians, has increased its ratings dominance as Colbert won premiere week by moer than 1.5 million viewers in Live+3, Week 2 by almost 2 million viewers and Week 3 by 1.7 million.
Additionally, Colbert’s opening monologues regularly make headlines and go viral. As of today, Colbert’s monologues from the new season, which started just over three weeks ago, have been viewed nearly 57 million times on YouTube.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most entertaining, influential and relevant voices in America today,” said David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer of CBS Corporation amd Chairman/CEO at Showtime Networks. “His monologue has become a vibrant part of the national discussion, and a spot on Stephen’s couch places guests from the worlds of entertainment, news and politics in front of late-night’s largest and most desirable audience. We’re incredibly proud of the broadcast and thrilled to extend our relationship with Stephen for years to come.”
Colbert showed his affinity for current events in his comment on the new deal with CBS. “I’ve been asked by CBS to host The Late Show until 2023, and I have every intention of honoring their subpoena,” he quipped.
The Late Show has received 13 Emmy nominations since its 2015 premiere, including three for Colbert’s Election Night Special that aired on Showtime in 2016. Last year, he was praised for not shying away from the Les Moonves controversy and deftly addressing it on the air while Moonves still was running CBS.
Additionally, Colbert has become a popular culture staple, greeted by chants of “Stephen” everywhere he goes, even when he recently walked out to present at the Emmys. In addition to his role as host, executive producer and writer of The Late Show, Colbert also serves as an executive producer on Showtime’s animated series Our Cartoon President, which premiered in February 2018.
After the turmoil in late-night during the first half of the current decade, the field has been pretty stable in the past few years. In addition to CBS re-upping Colbert and Corden, ABC in May signed its late-night host, Jimmy Kimmel, for three more seasons. NBC’s Fallon and Seth Meyers both are under contract through 2021.