CBS today announced the debut of Stephen Colbert as the host of the late night talk show, Late Show, will begin September 8th. The Colbert-era of Late Show will begin less than four months after David Letterman’s last episode is set to air on May 20, ending Letterman’s illustrious 32-year tenure as the show’s host on both CBS and NBC, its original home from February 1982 until June 1993.
In addition, CBS announced the renewal of first-year shows NCIS: New Orleans, Madam Secretary and Scorpion.
Stephen Colbert is entering his new gig after leaving his previous job at the top of his game. The final episode of The Colbert Report on December 18th was the most watched episode of the show’s nine year run, garnering 2.48 million viewers on television and adding an additional 189,000 online viewings.
While Letterman’s retirement appears to be the impetus for the change at the helm of CBS’ late night behemoth, it may have as much to do with the network’s desire to regain the coveted 18-49 demographic as it does with Letterman’s willful departure. For the last three months of 2014, NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon averaged a 1.17 rating among those aged 18-49, equaling the combined rating from CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman (.52) and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (.65).
In comparison, the final episode of The Colbert Report nearly doubled Letterman’s numbers with a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic, inflated numbers given the episode’s significance, but still a good score for a cable show. When Colbert starts his late night gig on CBS in September, he’ll be 51. The new blood on CBS will mark the first time since 1998 that ABC, NBC and CBS all have late night talk show hosts that are 51 years old or younger.
While there are no details on the show structure of Stephen Colbert’s reign on Late Show, last month the ever-droll outgoing host did suggest an off-the-wall guest for Colbert’s inaugural episode. Letterman suggested Colbert should test out his expertise at interviewing politicians on Russia’s President Valdimir Putin. And though the embattled leader isn’t likely to show up on a U.S. television set anytime soon, Colbert does have experience interviewing marquee politicians at the highest level. President Barack Obama not only appeared on The Colbert Report, but even took up hosting duties for a brief time in the show’s final month.