NEW YORK • While it will be several more years before America chooses its next president, Comedy Central already knows who it wants to lead its satirical news coverage during the 2020 election season and for a couple of years beyond that.
On Thursday, the network announced that it had extended the contract of Trevor Noah, the host of its flagship late-night programme The Daily Show, for five more years, until 2022.
The five-year extension is a strong show of support for Noah, the South African-born comedian who succeeded Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in September 2015. Noah will remain the anchor of this topical satire programme, as well as a writer and an executive producer. He will also produce and host annual year-end specials for Comedy Central.
As the network said in a news release: "The Daily Show will no longer take for granted that humankind has made it to another Dec 31."
Striking a similarly apocalyptic tone, Noah said in a statement: "It's really exciting to renew this contract for either five more years or until Kim Jong Un annihilates us all - whichever one comes first."
Noah's incarnation of The Daily Show drew an average nightly audience of more than one million viewers for the week ending Sept 1, according to Nielsen, well short of the two million or more who tuned in for Stewart's programme by the end of his 16-year tenure.
But Comedy Central cited other positive trends in its decision to extend Noah's contract, including growth among overall viewers, and viewers aged 18 to 49, over the programme's 2016-2017 season. The network said The Daily Show was on pace this quarter to become the most-watched daily late-night talk programme among millennial viewers aged 18 to 34.
It's really exciting to renew this contract for either five more years or until Kim Jong Un annihilates us all - whichever one comes first.''
DAILY SHOW HOST TREVOR NOAH on the renewal of his contract as the host of the late-night programme The Daily Show
Mr Kent Alterman, president of Comedy Central, said in a phone interview: "We have never had any lack of confidence in Trevor. Quite the opposite, we've never wavered in our belief in him, and now what we're seeing is that the rest of the world has taken notice and expressed the same confidence."
The duration of Noah's contract extension is on a par with what his cable TV peers have been receiving recently.
On Tuesday, HBO said it had signed John Oliver, The Daily Show alumnus and host of Last Week Tonight, to a new three-year deal until 2020. In May, Conan O'Brien, host of TBS' Conan, received a four-year extension until 2022.