Jon Stewart’s announcement of his retirement from The Daily Show has already had a financial impact on Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom, with The Wrap reporting that the company’s NASDAQ value slipped 1.5 percent—roughly $350 million—in the wake of the news. Stewart has been an extremely lucrative employee for Viacom; besides acting as a shepherd for developing talents like Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, his influence among young viewers and their precious disposable income is hard to overestimate. Although the host has been tight-lipped about what his post-Daily Show future involves, that didn’t stop CNBC’s Fast Money from bringing on former Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn to speculate wildly about the financial possibilities.
While acknowledging that Stewart’s departure from The Daily Show was unlikely to be related to money—according to TV Guide, Stewart is already late night’s highest-paid host by a healthy $5 million a year margin—Levinsohn proposed that the comedian could leverage his massive popularity among millennials to bring in more than $100 million a year with a Glenn Beck-esque subscription TV service. (After all, Stewart has always been giddily game to imitate Beck and beat him on his own turf.) Levinsohn’s advice? “If I was Viacom, I would back the truck up” to keep Stewart—presumably, a big truck full of family dinners on school nights.
Meanwhile, the acolytes who attend to the vast, gold-filled vault within which Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone sleeps away the eternities report that the Great Wyrm stirred restlessly in his slumber, before thankfully sparing the Earth and slipping back into his dark, endless Moneydream.