Late night television is making some changes, and those changes are happening rapidly. Jay Leno’s on his way out, Fallon’s on his way up and Seth Meyers is getting his own late night show. While the late night schedule will look extremely different six months from now, CBS has decided to stick with an old faithful, David Letterman, during the network’s popular 11:35 p.m. timeslot, at least for the next couple of years.
In a press release on Friday, CBS announced that Letterman had signed a brand new contract with the network that will keep him on air through 2105. The news comes after Letterman did well during the opening week of the broadcast season, scoring 5% gains year over year in the ratings during opening week. In a press release, Letterman joked about having the conversation with CBS President and Chief Executive Officer, Les Moonves.
“Les and I had a lengthy discussion, and we both agreed that I needed a little more time to fully run the show into the ground.”
Letterman’s 66 years old and he’s been hosting the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS since 1993. Over the years, the man has had trouble competing with Jay Leno, often losing to NBC’s late night host, but with the field wide open in the coming months, it’s looking like CBS wants to stick with Letterman—at least for a little while. Since CBS has worked over the last few years to create an image based on brand recognition and longevity (think Two and a Half Men and NCIS), the decision to keep Letterman around isn’t shocking.
The late night world already looks a little different, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel Live! hopping into the 11:35 timeslot last winter and becoming a competitive force in that slot. Things will change again this coming winter. Leno is expected to leave The Tonight Show in February, after which Jimmy Fallon will step into his slot right after the closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Jimmy Fallon’s move means NBC’s late late show will be open, and SNL veteran Seth Meyers is set to join the network's late night roster.
Letterman may be getting older and he may not crush in the ratings as much as he used to, but he still brings in a consistent audience every night. Though the man has been hinting at retirement for years, even if he and the network decide to part ways at the end of this contract, signing on for the Late Show with David Letterman through 2015 should give the network plenty of time to find a good replacement for Letterman. It could take a little while. Something tells me that Craig Ferguson's brand of goofiness won't be able to make it earlier in the evening.
In the meantime, you can catch the Late Show with David Letterman on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET.