Comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have extended their contracts… (Charles Sykes / Associated…)
Eager to keep its edgy late-night block intact, Comedy Central has negotiated two-year contract extensions with its star comedians, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
Stewart's new deal will keep him on the network and at the helm of the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at least through the middle of 2015. His previous agreement would have expired next summer.
Colbert's new arrangement goes through the end of 2014. Colbert serves as executive producer, writer and host for "The Colbert Report." His previous contract was set to run out at the end of this year.
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The two shows have become a bright light in late-night ratings. During the current TV season, both shows on the Viacom Inc. network have expanded their audience in the key demographic of viewers age 18 to 49.
That comes in contrast to the performance of broadcast stalwarts "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on NBC, and "Late Night with David Letterman" on CBS, which have seen younger viewers flee.
"The Daily Show" is up 10% in the 18-to-49 demographic compared with the previous season, while "The Colbert Report" has grown its audience by 11%. (The period measured was late September through the end of June -- before the nine-day blackout on DirecTV.) Both shows appear to be benefiting from their trademark political satire in a presidential election year.
Comedy Central said "The Daily Show" now delivers more viewers age 18 to 49 (1.4 million) than any other late-night talk show on television.
Although not the top-rated shows at Comedy Central -- "South Park" and "Tosh.0" vie for that honor -- the two late-night programs have become key for branding the network and driving advertising sales.
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