‘Daily Show’ host lands new deal

After slow start, Noah’s numbers up 14 percent this year

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Two years after replacing Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah is riding high, attracting the largest audiences of his career and getting a long contract extension.

Comedy Central, owned by Viacom, said Thursday it extended Noah’s run as host of the late-night program through 2022. The company also asked the 33-year-old South African native to take on year-end specials and has made him an executive producer of the forthcoming late show “The Opposition.”

“We never had any doubts or lack of confidence, but as he’s done the job he just keeps elevating,” Comedy Central President Kent Alterman said in an interview.

That success is welcome relief for a network that’s struggled in recent years. Like MTV and BET, two other Viacom networks, Comedy Central has lost viewers to online competitors Netflix and YouTube, and its prime-time ratings continue to suffer. The parent company, which has undergone its own management upheavals in the past couple years, recently pulled Comedy Central shows from Hulu.

A relative newcomer to “The Daily Show” who wasn’t all that well known to U.S. viewers, Noah was a controversial choice to succeed Stewart two years ago. More-popular “Daily Show” disciples — Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and John Oliver — left to host programs on other networks. Another, Larry Wilmore, didn’t last as successor to Colbert.

The audience for “The Daily Show” has grown 14 percent in the past year and 6 percent among viewers ages 18 to 49, a demographic advertisers favor. None of Noah’s late-night competitors — even the surging Colbert at CBS — have managed both feats. On a nightly basis, he’s averaging 1.51 million total viewers and 672,000 in the 18-to-49 group.