CBS chief Les Moonves and New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced today in a press release that the network’s Late Show will remain in the Ed Sullivan Theater when Stephen Colbert takes over for David Letterman next year. By staying put, the show will continue to benefit from New York’s vibrant energy, thriving creative community, and rich broadcast tradition, all of which surely weighed on Moonves’ mind as he and CBS’ executive team pondered this decision.
Also weighing on their minds—perhaps even more so—was a package of tax breaks and other funding from the state of New York that could end up totaling more than $16 million. As the New York Daily News reports, Cuomo has guaranteed CBS at least $11 million in tax credits over five years, and the state will also provide up to $5 million in grants “to offset renovations” of the Ed Sullivan Theater. In exchange, CBS has promised to maintain “approximately 200 New York-based jobs” in association with Late Show production, jobs that the press release said would “foster a steady stream of tourism revenue.” That all works out to around $80,000 per job, which sounds like a lot, but corporate-welfare math is always so tricky.
CBS’ decision to keep Colbert in Manhattan comes a little more than a year after NBC decided to bring The Tonight Show back to New York—a move that was also motivated by tax breaks. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti had hoped to lure Late Show to L.A. to restore the balance of transcontinental late-night TV production, but he was thwarted by New York’s generosity. In response to the Late Show news, Variety got a statement from Garcetti bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t offer public money of his own to CBS, a company that cleared almost half a billion dollars in the first quarter of 2014.