TVNewsCheck Focus on Programming

CTD Hopes Arsenio Can Win Younger Demo

With the competition on ABC, CBS and NBC all skewing 50-plus, CBS Television Distribution is betting 35-54 viewers remembers Arsenio Hall and will welcome him back to latenight. If Arsenio siphons off African-American viewers for his broadcast competitors, it will most likely be at the expense of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel’s adult 18-49 rating was a 0.8 among African Americans compared to 0.5 among all adults 18-49.

ABC this month moved Jimmy Kimmel Live to 11:35 p.m. to directly compete with NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman. But that won't be the last big development this year in the never-ending and expanding latenight talk show wars.

This fall, Arsenio Hall returns to latenight with a syndicated show, hoping to recapture many of the viewers he had two decades ago when his original show became a syndication phenomenon.

Story continues after the ad

“The primary audience, African Americans, is looking forward to him coming back,” says Joe DiSalvo, president of sales at CBS Television Distribution, which has cleared the show in 95% of the U.S. “The 35-54-year-old demographic remembers him. They like him and they’re also looking forward to him coming back.”

That's exactly the age demo that Tribune Broadcasting was looking for when it helped developed Arsenio Hall and made room for it in all 19 of its markets, including CW affiliates WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago and MNT affiliate WPHL Philadelphia.

“The median age on Tribune stations in late fringe is 43,” says Sean Compton, president of programming and entertainment at the station group.“Arsenio falls right into that sweet spot. A lot of 43 year olds were watching him 20 years ago. We’re catering to that audience. We’re going after our existing audience and hoping to bring in more of them.”

If Arsenio finds an audience of 40-somethings,  it will be considerably younger than the viewers who tune into rival talk shows. Leno’s viewers, for instance, have a median age of 58, according to Nielsen data for this season. Letterman’s audience has a median age of 57. Kimmel watchers had a median age of 54 in his old 12:05 a.m. slot.

Brand Connections

“The current latenight shows are not doing a very effective job reaching young viewers,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media. “They’re all reaching a 50-plus audience. One reason Arsenio was so successful the first time around was because he attracted young viewers.”

Arsenio will be entering a TV marketplace that is far different than it was during his first run between 1989 and 1994 when the Tonight Show dominated with Johnny Carson and, starting in 1992, Leno.

In the fall, he will be up against not only Leno, Letterman and Kimmel on the Big Three broadcast neworks, but also some significant competition on cable.

Here's the late-night lineup with total Nielsen viewers and start times in the East for the week of Jan. 14:

  • Tonight Show (Leno), NBC, 11:34 p.m., 3,486,000
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC,11:35 p.m., 3,017,000
  • Late Show (Letterman), CBS, 11:35 p.m., 2,994,000
  • The Daily Show, Comedy Central, 11 p.m., 1,816,000
  • Colbert Report, Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m., 1,308,000
  • Conan, TBS, 11 p.m., 1,006,000
  • Watch What Happens Live, Bravo, 11 p.m., 804,000
  • Chelsea Lately, E!, 11 p.m., 641,000.

If Arsenio siphons off African-American viewers for his broadcast competitors, it will most likely be at the expense of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel’s adult 18-49 rating was a 0.8 among African Americans compared to 0.5 among all adults 18-49, according to Nielsen’s live-plus-seven-day ratings.

The other major latenight shows also over deliver black viewers but less so, with Letterman generating a 0.9 among African Americans 18-49 or 30% above his general adults 18-49 demo. Leno’s 0.9 rating among African Americans is 10% higher than his general audience.

Arsenio, which was sold in two-year cash-plus-barter deals (5 national minutes, 9 local), will mostly air coming out of late news either at 11 p.m. or 10 p.m. That means that in most markets it will get a half-hour head start on Leno, Letterman and Kimmel.

In the top 10 markets, Arsenio will air on nine CW affiliates and one MNT affiliate. Tribune owns the stations in seven of the markets. CBS will carry the show in San Francisco (KBCW) and Atlanta (WUPA). Sunbeam will fill out the top 10 with its WLVI Boston.

Even if Arsenio generates respectable ratings in key demographic groups, the show will likely stick around for some time, according to its backers. If nothing else, it is giving stations original content in time slots where many are now rerunning off-network sitcoms, some of which also can be seen on cable and online.

“We have a show that we feel good about, but we also have exclusivity,” Compton says. “When we rerun an off-net sitcom in late fringe, we’re competing with one or multiple cable runs of the show. We’re telling the industry, most importantly advertisers, that we’re back in the first-run game. If we have a good rating with Arsenio, there is a premium for exclusive, first-run shows.”

Like Hall’s original show, Arsenio will put an emphasis on cool, with hot musical groups and celebrities.

“When the show was on in the past, it was a party that you’d want to be invited to,” says Bill Carroll, VP-director of programming at Katz Television. “If they can bring that same energy to the show, it will be very successful.”


Comments (5) -

Ron Stitt Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Arsenio...younger..... they're kidding, right? Is there anyone under the age of 50 involved in the planning here? Is there no talent born after say, 1960, that they might want to be looking at? "When the show was on in the past..." - like, 25 years ago! The bag of re-tread tricks & talent is empty. Time to do some know...creative thinking. No wonder TV is becoming so irrelevant to everyone under the age of 35. Wake up people.
RustbeltAlumnus2 Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Yeah, let's get a guy who's 56 to appeal to the 35-54 demo. Dumb idea, all around. As novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote, you can't go home again.
foxchick Nickname posted over 4 years ago
geez...Debbie Downer least give it a chance and watch an actual episode (when it finally premieres) before raining on the parade
JDH1955 Nickname posted over 4 years ago
This is a very smart move when you read why stations are picking it up. Good for them taking a chance
Scooter Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Interesting how it's quite okay to target Blacks, but can you imagine what would be said if a show were to come on the air "targeting Whites?" When will African Americans blend in and become Americans?
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog




Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.
Source: Nielsen


  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

This advertisement will close automatically in  second(s). You will see this ad no more than once a day. Skip ad