A statement by Hall, 34, called his decision "the most complicated" of his life, "but everything must change and it's time." He did not mention his plans during the taping of last night's show.
Hall sent a letter to Kerry McCluggage, chairman of Paramount's television group, saying he wanted to end the show, according to a Paramount executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hall's six-year contract was due to expire in December, and there had been no active negotiations on renewing the deal, the Paramount executive said. In Hall's statement, however, he referred to proposals from Paramount for a seventh year.
Although Hall's format was similar to that of other talk shows, he showcased up-and-coming rap and rock musicians, which the other shows had
When close friend Magic Johnson announced that he had contracted the AIDS virus, Johnson went on Hall's show to discuss his illness.
Hall's national ratings took a direct hit after Letterman's Late Show debuted on CBS in August.
Hall's show, which had revitalized the late-night format with its appeal to younger audiences, no longer seemed unconventional in comparison with Letterman and with Leno's Tonight Show. And Hollywood's top-ranked stars were no longer making Arsenio Hall their first choice on the talk-show circuit.
In January 1993, Arsenio Hall posted an average 2.9 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. A year later, that had dipped to 2.2. Each ratings point represents 942,000 homes.
During that period, the show was dropped by about 20 of the 184 stations carrying it. In some markets, it was pushed back to a later time slot because of its ratings.
After original episodes of Arsenio Hall conclude May 27, "best of" episodes will run from May 31 until September.
Hall's relationship with Paramount will continue, the company said: He will develop and produce series, specials and films for Paramount's TV and film groups.