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Jay Leno Stops By ‘Arsenio Hall Show’ to Announce Season 2 Renewal

“The Arsenio Hall Show” will fight on in the latenight wars, getting the official season two nod from distributor CBS TV Distribution on Wednesday.

The renewal had been expected, though it wasn’t a slam dunk. Jay Leno stopped by the taping of Hall’s Wednesday episode to help the host announce his good news (see video below).

Hall’s return to latenight last September started out with impressive numbers, but he quickly settled into a weaker territory. To date, the show is averaging about 1.05 million viewers a week.

The renewal hinged on the show’s performance on Tribune Broadcasting stations, as Tribune is a co-producer of “Arsenio Hall” with CBS.

In most of Tribune’s top markets, the show is doing credible ratings, although New York remains a weak spot. But the overall trend was enough to give CBS and Tribune confidence in extending the show’s lifeline, on the theory that talkshow franchises are a marathon, not a sprint. Latenight is particularly challenging given the depth of competition on the Big Three networks and cable. Hall’s show was the first syndicated latenight show of its kind to debut in 15 years.

Leno decision to make his first post-“Tonight Show” TV appearance on “Arsenio Hall” was a clear sign of the friendship between the two. It’s also a little ironic given that Hall’s show expects to benefit from Leno’s exit and the move of “The Tonight Show” to New York under new host Jimmy Fallon.

The hope is that the absence of NBC from the West Coast will help “Arsenio Hall” with guest bookings, which have been an uphill battle. Hall’s show is also hoping to pick up some experienced “Tonight Show” staffers who have been job hunting since Leno signed off on Feb. 6.

“Arsenio Hall” ousted its original showrunner, Neal Kendall, barely a month into its run. CBS and Hall have held off naming a permanent replacement until it a second season was a certainty.

In announcing the renewal, CBS noted that Hall’s show has the lowest median age, 50.1, of all of the broadcast latenight talkshows.

“We knew Arsenio had a built-in fan base, but he’s also reaching a new generation,” said CTD prexy of sales Joseph DiSalvo.

After investing so much in the launch, Tribune execs decided to hang in and bet that the ratings and the overall caliber of the show will improve with time.

“Arsenio is an incredibly talented host who has connected with his viewers; we look forward to watching the show grow and develop in year two,” said Sean Compton, Tribune’s prexy of strategic programming and acquisitions.


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