Comedy Central is reaching back to the past to keep its long-running “The Daily Show” going in the present.
After scuttling a months-long search for a new host, the Paramount Global network said it has enlisted Jon Stewart, who presided over the late-night mainstay’s most popular era, to serve as its host on Monday nights throughout the 2024 election cycle and to run the program. He is expected to play an oversight role at “Daily” that could extend through 2025, and will start his on-air duties February 12. Various “Daily Show” correspondents will host the program Tuesday through Thursday nights, and Jen Flanz, the current executive producer, will continue her duties on the show.
Stewart is the persona most closely identified with “Daily,” and turned it from Comedy Central’s bid to be part of the late-night landscape into a cultural institution that became a touchstone for much of TV’s younger crowd. Since his exit in 2015, Stewart has tended to other projects. He has been an executive producer of CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and led a weekly foray into topical humor on Apple’s streaming service, a show called “The Problem With Jon Stewart” that did not gain as much traction as his tenure on “Daily.”
Comedy Central has been under intense scrutiny over the past year as it tested out a wide range of potential hosts, including Leslie Jones, Kal Penn and Sarah Silverman after the abrupt departure of Trevor Noah at the end of 2022. Executives have been determined to keep the program — a signature series for both the network and its parent, Paramount Global — particularly in an election year.
But the economics of late-night TV have weakened. Advertising dollars and audiences for the programs have begun to shrink in recent years as viewers move more readily to streaming video and watch more of the programs by checking out digital-media snippets of the programs the day after the run on linear TV. After capturing about $39.9 million in advertising dollars in 2022, “Daily Show” is on track to lure just under $19 million for 2023, according to Vivvix, a tracker of ad spending. Production last year was hampered by the Hollywood writers strikes, and Comedy Central did not run “Daily Show” repeats as its rivals at CBS, NBC and ABC did.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Variety