It was just recently announced that “The Arsenio Hall Show” has been canceled. After just one season of the return of the ground-breaking late night show, CBS said in a statement: “Unfortunately, ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ will not return for a second season; while there are many loyal fans of the show, the series did not grow its audience enough to continue. Arsenio is a tremendous talent and we’d like to thank him for all the hard work and energy he put into the show. We’d also like to thank Tribune and all our station group partners for their support of the show.” Although there was an announcement of Season 2 pick-up by special guest Jay Leno on the show in February, 2014, the station determined that the show would not be financially viable. The last week of the show was reruns. The last original show was May 21, 2014.
There are a few reasons why the show was canceled , according to industry insiders. First, the ratings were not as good as expected. Twenty-four years ago, Arsenio Hall debuted his hit late night talk show, and in 2013 he returned, but was unable to match those same ratings as before. The show had a great start, averaging a strong 1.5 rating/6 share in its 56 metered markets when it premiered September 9, 2013. There was a 50% increase in viewers from that same time period, one year prior for the station. But, the ratings dropped fast, falling from 1.5 to 1.0 to a mere 0.4, near the end.
Another reason for the cancellation was due to the fact that the show struggled with guest bookings. The original showrunner, Neal Kendall, was fired after only one month into the season and a permanent replacement was never set. The struggle with bookings was perplexing to the “Arsenio Hall” team. The show had ratings comparable to other late night shows originally, like TBS’s “Conan.” Hall’s Manager/Executive Producer John Ferriter said, “My one regret was that we had many, many celebrities who told us they wanted to do the show, but we couldn’t get their reps to book them.” Scott Huver, Hollywood-based pop culture reporter said, “The series got off to a great start ratings-wise, which is a testament to the enduring charm of Arsenio and fond memories of his original. His strong early start suggests that there is a void that viewers are looking to fill – presumably a talk show with the kind of urban sensibility, cutting edge artists and house party vibe of Hall’s original show.” He continued, “He now needs to lure the most cutting-edge talent to his couch long before Leno, Letterman, Kimmel and the rest even show interest, create moments that feel more viral-ready than nostalgic, and revamp the show’s leaden comedic sensibility. He still has a window to make it happen.”
In 1990, The Arsenio Hall Show debuted and changed the face of late night talk shows. His show was like a party and the viewers were invited each night. He was young, vibrant, cool and black! Many of the entertainers of today got their start on his show. He introduced new talent to us on a regular basis. His show was like the Soul Train of late night television. We got a chance to see one of our own host a show with guest that we liked and that spoke like us. That made us proud. Arsenio Hall said in a statement, “When I started this adventure with CTD and Tribune, we all knew it would be a challenge – I’m gratified for the year we’ve had and proud of the show we created. I’d like to thank everyone on my staff for rallying around me and striving to make the best show possible each night.”
The Arsenio Hall Show may be canceled, but knowing Arsenio Hall, it won’t be the last we see of him.