Finally for Fox, a fall to remember
Normally, fall is the season Fox likes to forget. It struggles to launch shows, and its big guns -- "24" and "American Idol" don't come on until after January. If that's not enough, the network's commitment to carry baseball playoffs and the World Series often wreaks havoc with its schedule for all of October.
But this fall Fox's prime time is off to one of its best starts ever. It is poised to win the second week of the TV season in adults 18-49, and not only are some of its established shows showing strong staying power, new shows "Glee" and "The Cleveland Show" are keepers.
This season, Fox is up 7% in viewers, averaging 7.5 million viewers and 11% in adults 18-49 with a 3.1 rating (each rating point in that demographic equals 1.3 million people) on five nights of the week. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in particular have made big gains with younger viewers from a year ago, and Fox is also expecting Sunday night to be up in both categories compared to last season.
"I am a little surprised; fourth quarter is not their strength" says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research for Horizon Media, a media buying agency whose clients include Geico. Adgate said one of the more impressive performances has been that of the veteran "House," which has been averaging 16.3 million viewers and a 6.4 in adults 18-49.
Not every night is firing on all cylinders for News Corp.'s Fox. Friday is a flat-out disaster as the new sitcom "Brothers" and the returning drama "Dollhouse" are struggling and likely will be gone in weeks. The audience for the night this season is just 2.4 million, a drop of about 54% compared to the same period last season.
Of course, now baseball is coming around again, which means many shows will be preempted. The fear is always that whatever momentum is there could be slowed.
But this fall the risk may be lessened as the network will likely have some pretty compelling games with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers and Cardinals all in the postseason hunt.
At a hush hush gathering of Fox affiliates this past weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyo., new Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice was positive on the value of baseball to the network's fall lineup, according to people at the meeting.
That is a different attitude than some predecessors, who have often griped about how baseball disrupts the network's programming flow and attracts an older audience that doesn't stick around for Fox's shows.
There is some truth to that, but that won't stop Fox from making sure we get plenty of close-ups of the cast of "Glee" during the World Series. In fact, they already probably rehearsing to sing the national anthem at one of the games. Talk about synergy.-- Joe Flint
Photo: "Glee's" Will (Matthew Morrison) and Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig). Credit: Fox.