Every year brings change to the talk show ecosystem. New shows arrive (The Real, Queen Latifah), old shows – and hosts – retire (Katie, Jay Leno), and inevitably controversy arises (Jenny McCarthy and The Talk versus The View).
To tell the truth, talk shows changes are almost unpredictable. Who knew The Arsenio Hall Show would feel almost as if there wasn’t a nearly two decade gap between the last time the show was on the air?
Still, we like to make predictions. Even if we feel pretty sure we’re way off. Or at least, ahead of our time. So, here we go!
- The View announces its final season
The departure of Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar, along with the oft-questioned hiring of Jenny McCarthy and the summer retirement of Barbara Walters, means The View is going through a period of transition the likes of which it may not be able to recover from. Add to that The Talk’s fast rise in ratings and popularity, and the alleged apathy of some current cast members on ABC’s show, and all of a sudden the summer announcement of a graceful bow doesn't seem all that far-fetched.
- Late night undergoes a renaissance
Jimmy Fallon’s move to The Tonight Show, Seth Meyers' premiere on Late Night, Jimmy Kimmel’s continued success at 11:35 p.m., all overseen by the godfather of late night, David Letterman, means late night network talk will get the most viewers its ever had in the history of the genre. We’re not even including The Arsenio Hall Show, which will add significant numbers to this renaissance. What we’re really talking about is how fresh and fun late night will suddenly become after Jay Leno’s departure. Nothing against Leno, but the baggage his Tonight carries (from the controversy with Letterman in the 1990s, to the brouhaha with Conan a few years back, and his recent tangle with NBC over his latest retirement), along with the quiet predictability of the show, has late night all off-kilter. Fallon’s charm, Meyers’ comic sensibility and Kimmel’s schoolyard mischievousness puts the whole works back in balance.
- Everyone wants a late night talk show – including Jay Leno
This one is in direct response to the previous prediction. With a fresh new late night drawing viewers in and encouraging interaction through digital channels and social media, more and more cable networks will look for ways to enter the late night ecosystem. And someone will most certainly land Jay Leno. Though he says he isn’t interested in returning to late night, going out on his game and with the ratings to prove it, isn’t something that will sit well with Leno. He’ll want to show can still dominate the competition. So expect an announcement sometime in mid-2014 with all the deets about where and when Leno will return to late night.
- Diversity drives an overshadowed daytime
All the talk show news in the first half of 2014 will be about the new hipness of late night talk. Daytime will take a back seat for the first time in a long time. But as late night enjoys viewer fanfare, daytime television will quietly solidify its leadership as a richly diverse talk show landscape. Queen Latifah’s show is a bona fide hit and the short run of The Real will be soon followed by a national roll out. For audiences looking for a variety of shows and talk show hosts of all races, ages, genders and sexual orientation, daytime is the place to be.
- David Letterman announces his retirement
After surpassing Johnny Carson’s record for longest tenured late night talk show host in the U.S. next year, Letterman will announce his retirement from the Late Show after the 2015 –2016 season. That’s our guess anyway. Fallon and Kimmel’s dominance in late night – along with their reverence for Late Show, Late Night, Carson and Letterman – will be enough for Letterman to feel as though he can pass the torch. The real question will be: who will he pass the torch to? It’s anyone’s guess. Craig Ferguson? Maybe. His sensibilities match Fallon and Kimmel’s. But it could be anyone.
So there you have it! Our top five talk show predictions for 2014. Agree or disagree? Or have some of your own? Share them by emailing me at email@example.com!