Comedy Central Cancels The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore

18-month run didn't take hold with viewers

The final The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore will air this Thursday, Comedy Central announced.

The cancelation came down to ratings and contract renewals, Comedy Central president Kent Alterman tells The New York Times. "Even though we've given it a year and a half, we've been hoping against hope that it would start to click with our audience, but it hasn't happened and we haven't seen evidence of it happening," Alterman said. Wilmore's contract was set to expire in a few weeks, which led to the cancelation 80 days before the presidential election.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Wilmore said he's "saddened and surprised we won't be covering this crazy election or 'The Unblackening,' as we've coined it. I guess I hadn't counted on 'The Unblackening' happening to my time slot as well."

Wilmore began hosting The Nightly Show in January 2015, a month after the 11:30 p.m. timeslot was vacated by Stephen Colbert, who was named as the replacement for David Letterman on CBS' The Late Show.

A ratings drop-off from Colbert Report was expected, but an Adweek analysis in February, a year into his run, showed Wilmore's audience was 55 percent lower than Colbert's. It was also 29 percent lower than Wilmore was attracting in February 2015. The show has been averaging 776,000 viewers per night, according to Nielsen.

Colbert's move away from Comedy Central came a few months before Jon Stewart announced his own departure from the cable network and the long-running Daily Show. 

Alterman said he "couldn't be happier" with Stewart's Daily Show replacement, Trevor Noah, telling the Times: "It's been no surprise to us. We expected him to take time to find his rhythm and find his way."

For now, Comedy Central's midnight show, @midnight with Chris Hardwick, will air at 11:30 p.m. Alterman hopes to find a new late-night host early next year.