Comedy Central is canceling The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore after Thursday’s episode.
The announcement came as a surprise Monday with the network cutting loose the politically conscious show a few months before the presidential election.
In a statement, Comedy Central credited Wilmore and his staff with generating conversations “by addressing social issues of great importance to the country, always challenging people’s attitudes, perceptions and bias.”
Comedy Central president Kent Alterman told Variety that despite high hopes, the show never attracted the audience the network expected.
“We’ve been monitoring it closely as for a year and a half now and we haven’t seen the signs we need in ratings or in consumption on digital platforms.” Alterman told the publication. “We’ve been been hoping it would grow.”
The showed premiered in January 2015 at 11:30 p.m. after Jon Stewart’s wildly successful The Daily Show. The coolly analytical Wilmore entered the network’s late-night lineup replacing Stephen Colbert, whose jingoistic blowhard character made The Colbert Report a favorite and eventually landed him David Letterman’s old gig on CBS’ The Late Show.
But Wilmore had trouble repeating Colbert’s success, as Variety goes on to say:
“‘Nightly Show’ premiered less than a month before Stewart announced his plan to step down as ‘Daily Show’ host. Wilmore opened to nearly 1 million viewers but didn’t sustain that audience. After Stewart bowed out on Aug. 6, 2015, ‘Nightly Show’ struggled with the smaller lead-in as Noah took the reins from Stewart.
“In the past few months, ‘Daily Show’ has seen an uptick particularly among the younger viewers that matter most to Comedy Central. In the second quarter of this year, “Daily Show” averaged 278,000 viewers in the adults 18-34 demo, second only to NBC’s ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ (364,000). ‘Nightly Show’ averaged 153,000 viewers in that demo.
“Given the importance of ‘Daily Show’ franchise to Comedy Central, it’s no surprise that the cabler would devote more energy and resources to promoting Noah rather than ‘Nightly.’
In his own statement, Wilmore thanked the network, Stewart and viewers for the opportunity.
“I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it,” the statement reads. “I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
Before taking on The Nightly Show, Wilmore had a long history in television as a writer for In Living Color and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and as creator of The Bernie Mac Show.
In 2006, Wilmore stepped in front of the camera playing the “Senior Black Correspondent” on Stewart’s Daily Show.
Stewart served as a producer for The Nightly Show.
Most recently, Wilmore hosted this year’s White House Correspondents Association dinner.
Until Comedy Central schedules a permanent replacement, it will move its @Midnight with Chris Hardwick to Wilmore’s former spot.