Jon Stewart Just Cost Viacom $350 Million

Popular “Daily Show” host’s announced departure shakes company’s value in Wednesday trading; “If I was Viacom, I would back the truck up,” Ross Levinsohn tells CNBC

Viacom (VIAB) shares were slammed to the tune of $350 million on Wednesday after “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart announced on Tuesday night that he would leave the Comedy Central news satire program sometime this year.

The media conglomerate parent company’s value slid by nearly 1.5 percent next day NASDAQ trading, Fortune reported at market close.

Shares closed Thursday at $67.71, up $0.55 (0.83 percent) intraday on expected weekend box-office strength from the corporation’s Paramount Pictures release “Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge out of Water,” but down 10.11 percent year to date.

Stewart’s post-“Daily Show” brand could be worth $100 million annually, said Ross Levinsohn, a former interim Yahoo CEO and current board member of Scout Media.

“There is a generation of fans who would follow Jon Stewart probably anywhere,” Levinsohn told CNBC’s “Fast Money: Halftime Report” on Thursday. Levinsohn arrived at the amount by estimating 1 million subscribers paying $8 per month, plus advertising income and other revenue streams.

He went on to say, “If I was Viacom, I would back the truck up” to keep the Stewart at “The Daily Show.” Watch the video below or here.

VIAB Feb. 12, 2015 close (NASDAQ