CBS is moving Chris Licht, executive producer of CBS This Morning, to late night where he will be executive producer and showrunner of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Ryan Kadro, who’s been working with Licht as co-executive producer, will take over CBS This Morning starting Monday, April 18.
The move comes as CBS seems to be looking to bolster The Late Show’s performance, the ratings for which routinely trail those of NBC’s established leader The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and sometimes those of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, although Colbert typically beats Kimmel.
Season to date, The Tonight Show is averaging 3.8 million viewers among adults 18-49, compared to 2.94 million for Colbert and 2.43 million for Kimmel, reports Variety, with Colbert the only one of the three major network shows to be up compared to last year. Colbert also is tracking 31% higher than Letterman last year, says The Hollywood Reporter.
According to Variety, Licht is a “feisty — and ambitious — innovator.” Licht has boosted the performance of CBS This Morning, starring Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose. Licht, a former radio deejay, helped create MSNBC’s Morning Joe before joining CBS News in 2011.
Both Variety and THR note that Colbert arrived having taken many of the showrunning on duties himself but that both starring and executive-producing a one-hour network late-night talk show is a much bigger beast than doing similar work on a half-hour, four-night-per-week cable show. As a result, CBS started looking to add an experienced EP to the ranks, and found that person in Licht.
As part of this move, Licht also has been named executive vice president of special programming for CBS Corp.