CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS) today named comedian Stephen Colbert as the next host of The Late Show, effective when longtime host David Letterman retires. Financial terms of the five-year deal weren't disclosed.
"Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television," said CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves in a press release. "David Letterman's legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today's announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night."
When Letterman's two-decade tenure as host of The Late Show will end isn't entirely clear. Letterman announced last week he would retire in 2015. Colbert will conclude his time as host of the Comedy Central hit The Colbert Report in eight months.
"Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best," the network said in a statement published by TVBytheNumbers.com.
Since its launch on Comedy Central in 2005, The Colbert Report has received widespread critical acclaim while earning two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, including an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Series (2013) and three Emmy wins for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (2013, 2010, 2008). Prior to that, Colbert spent eight years as a correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show as an on-air personality and writer.
CBS' The Late Show has drawn well for most of its history. And yet it's become tougher to keep viewers with NBC replacing longtime Tonight Show host Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon in February. The reformulated Tonight Show has outperformed both Letterman's Late Show and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live in the key 18-to-49 demographic year-to-date, TVBytheNumbers.com reports.
CBS' entertainment segment -- which includes its broadcast TV operations -- accounted for 57% of 2013 revenue and nearly half of operating income. All told, CBS Television produces programming for some 200 domestic affiliates, including 16 company-owned and operated stations.