Jon Stewart just cost Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central on which The Daily Show airs, $350 million. That’s how much its shares lost after Stewart announced that he will soon be departing the show.
According to Fortune, Viacom’s stock plummeted a full 1.5% and have yet to recover.
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It is really hard to believe that such a huge media conglomerate could suffer so much just because one man is leaving. Viacom also owns all the MTV and VH1 channels, Showtime, The Movie Chanel, Nickelodeon, BET Networks as well as Paramount Pictures. Then there are all of the Internet providers and web sites which it owns.
But The Daily Show is by far the most popular program on all of Viacom’s networks. Its ratings may not be as high as any of the broadcast network primetime shows or even their late night talk shows like The Tonight Show or David Letterman’s show.
But it is a huge hit with the most coveted demographic, kids under 25 years old, specifically high school and college aged kids. That is because they have the most disposable income to burn.
But Fortune points out that Comedy Central was already suffering from a ratings dip before Stewart’s announcement of 17% which caused the company a 9% drop in its profits last quarter alone.
Meanwhile Ross Levinsohn, a former interim Yahoo CEO and current board member of Scout Media, told CNBC that Stewart is worth $100 million to whoever hires him next. That is if the comic chooses to continue his television career in a new format and not just retire.
“There is a generation of fans who would follow Jon Stewart probably anywhere, ” said Levinsohn. “We are at the tipping point for millennials in the media business. Stewart is authentic to the corps and the millennial generation certainly knows that.”
Levinsohn mused that Stewart may try some sort of “direct to consumer” type of format. This would mean cutting out the middle man of a network, any network, and just selling pod casts and other materials directly through the web.
For now all of this is just supposition as Stewart himself has said nothing on his future plans.