Jon Stewart’s Retirement Spells Doom for Comedy Central and Viacom

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Redstone-Stewart

Jon Stewart‘s departure from The Daily Show Is a blow to Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), $415 million worth, to be precise, and it could mean that its elderly chairman, Sumner Redstone, 91, will have no choice but to sell the company.

To Viacom, Stewart means 1.2 million viewers each weeknight, Monday through Thursday and huge traffic, hundreds of thousands, on the Comedy Central website.

With those figures, and the fact that Redstone is also the controlling shareholder of CBS (NYSE:CBS), Dana Blankenhorn of Seeking Alpha says Stewart’s retirement from The Daily Show will surely start a whirlwind of media consolidations.

It’s good to be the king…

According to the Financial Times, shares of Viacom—which owns, besides Comedy Central, the Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH1 channels, dropped 2 percent in response to the Stewart announcement.

Stewart’s exit follows the departure of Comedy Central’s second biggest draw, Stephen Colbert, who’s slated to replace the retiring Late Night host David Letterman at CBS.

That’s two big names, and no telling if they’re replaceable.

In the fall, Sanford Bernstein downgraded Viacom, and warned that it was investing too much in content, plus its TV ads were bringing in less, taking a toll on profits.

OK, now they won’t be spending so much on content, because Stewart’s nut was among the highest in the industry.

Viacom profits were down 9 percent in Q4, shrinking to $500 million. Comedy Central was losing market share, too—by 17%.

Wanna’ buy a nice, funny network? I could get you one for a song…

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