Stephen Colbert to Host 2017 Emmy Awards on CBS

Stephen Colbert in character on Late Show - Publicity - H 2016
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Broadcast's late-night hosts may have officially cornered the market on awards-show gigs.

CBS has tapped Stephen Colbert to emcee the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards, marking at least the fourth marquee kudos to be hosted by a late-night personality this year. He will follow Jimmy Fallon (The Golden Globes), Jimmy Kimmel (The Academy Awards) and network neighbor James Corden (The Grammys) in what will surprisingly be the veteran comic's first time hosting a live awards telecast. (That's excluding the notably subdued Kennedy Center Honors.)

CBS also used the relatively early host confirmation to set the date for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' biggest night. The Emmys will air live, again from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Sunday, Sept. 17. This means the show will again go head-to-head with NBC's Sunday Night Football and serve as the unofficial launch of the broadcast TV season.

“This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period,” Colbert said Monday in a statement, clearly mocking the weekend's false claims about inauguration attendance from new White House press secretary Sean Spicer. “Both in person and around the globe.”

Colbert's Emmy gig is the latest of many platforms CBS has given the Late Show host since his 2015 arrival at the network after years of working for Comedy Central. When CBS had the revolving Super Bowl telecast rights in 2016, it gave the post-show time slot to Colbert. And throughout the 2016 election, the network gave his series several highly-publicized live outings — including one on cable sister Showtime.

Putting so much energy on Colbert has paid off. Though his telecast is still No. 2 to NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon among adults 18-49, he has posted strong gains with his politically focused outings. This past week, he won four of five nights among households. 

“We’re excited to kick off the new season and celebrate the top achievements in television with Stephen Colbert as host of the Primetime Emmys,” said Jack Sussman, CBS Entertainment executive vp specials, music and live events. “Stephen is the ultimate master of ceremonies with award-winning creative talents, and as we’ve seen the past few months, he has a fearless passion for live television. We look forward to honoring television’s best while entertaining audiences with the creative energy and sharp comedy of Stephen Colbert.”

The Emmys telecast is not a ratings powerhouse like that of the Oscars or the Golden Globes — it sank to a low 11.3 million viewers on ABC last year — but the show remains a valuable platform for whichever network gets the rotating telecast each year. The broadcast also has long been a platform for networks to plug internal talent (see CBS' 2014 choice, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris), whereas that trend is decidedly new for other awards shows.

Though he's never hosted, Colbert is no stranger to the Emmys. He has taken home nine Emmy statuettes for writing (The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) and outstanding variety series (The Colbert Report). His Late Show, howeverwas famously snubbed in its first year of eligibility.

“We are thrilled that Stephen Colbert will be bringing his Emmy-winning comedic talent to hosting this year’s Emmy Awards,” said newly minted TV Academy chairman and CEO Hayma Washington, who will be overseeing his first Emmys. "He's a formidable showman and we are delighted to begin working with him and the entire CBS team.”