Comedy Central Picks Up @Midnight

New late-night series to have same production schedule as "Daily Show" and "Colbert"

Chris Hardwick The Wall NBC
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Viacom’s Comedy Central said it had picked up “@Midnight,” a late-night program hosted by Chris Hardwick featuring comedians bantering about the day’s social-media sensations, and will put it on the same schedule as “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.”

The cable network said it has given a 40-week order for the program, which it hopes will develop into a third late-night franchise alongside the two more-established shows that precede it. “Daily” airs at 11 p.m. weeknights and is followed by “Colbert”a half-hour later.

The show is set to return in 2014.

The reasoning behind the pick-up is simple: At a time when the audiences of many of the veteran late-night programs on TV are skewing older, Comedy Central’s offerings attract youth. The network said “@midnight” drew an average of 142,000 viewers between the ages of 18 and 24 between the show’s Oct. 21 launch date and November 10. Only Stewart’s and Colbert’s programs drew more. In addition, Comedy Central said the show had the youngest median viewer age  – 32 –  in the late-night time slot.

Other networks have also tested the wee-hours playground in recent weeks. At TBS, the cable network owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, comedian Pete Holmes has been holding forth in a post-midnight show slotted after “Conan.” Turner has not indicated as of yet if the program will be picked up beyond what was expected to be an initial four-week run.

“@midnight”  is produced by Funny or Die.  Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant are exec producers, along with Hardwick; Mike Farah of Funny or Die; and Alex Blagg, Jason Nadler and Jon Zimelis of Serious Business; showrunner Jack Martin; and Alex Murray of Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Funny Or Die’s Joe Farrell is co-executive producer. Jim Sharp and Gary Mann are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.