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What Craig Ferguson’s Departure Means for CBS and Its Audience

What Craig Ferguson's Departure Means for CBS and Its Audience

The late night comedy shuffle continues with “The Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson, who announced his departure from the show last night.

Ferguson took the reigns of “The Late Late Show” back in January 2005. Early last month, immediately following Letterman’s on-air retirement announcement, Deadline Hollywood wrote a story identifying both Ferguson and Colbert as top candidates for the job. The story, however, also noted that Ferguson has a succession clause in his contract — meaning CBS would have to pay out a large sum of money to him should they offer “The Late Show” spot to someone else.

Whereas NBC executed a fairly seamless “change of the guard” by announcing Jimmy Fallon’s promotion to host of “The Tonight Show” a year prior to Jay Leno’s actual exit from the show, the unexpected turnover of CBS’ entire late night slot raises questions about the network’s long-term goals and what its current audience can expect to see. Bringing in outside talent like Colbert and potentially, Ferguson’s yet-to-be-determine successor, CBS has a lot at stake. Colbert has not “grown” with CBS in the same way that Fallon and Seth Meyers have grown with NBC via “Saturday Night Live.” And with almost no assurance that Colbert fans will migrate over from Comedy Central, CBS stands the chance of alienating the audience that Letterman and Ferguson have built a relationship with over the years.

Watch Ferguson’s sign off from “The Late Late Show” below.


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