As audiences shift toward recording shows to watch later on
digital video recorders and have less patience for committing to
months-long traditional TV series, Fox believes a short run of
"24: Live Another Day" will encourage viewers to skip the DVR
and watch the show as it airs.
The rebooted "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland as Bauer, will be
told in 12 episodes, half the length of its preceding eight
That is a formula inspired in part by cable television's ability
to draw respectable ratings by cutting the length of a show's
season, said Joe Earley, chief operating officer of Twenty-First
Century Fox Inc's Fox Broadcasting arm.
"It was clear the audience could not only commit to that run,
but that also in between they would be able to catch up in their
busy lifestyles and VOD (video on demand) and DVR choices.
There's a nice palatable number of 10 to 12 episodes," Earley
"24: Live Another Day," which also stars Mary Lynn Rajskub as
Bauer's sidekick, Chloe O'Brian, picks up as Bauer re-emerges
years after he was forced to go underground for being wanted by
both the United States and Russia.
The frenetic thriller in which each episode represents an hour
in one day, attracted viewers as one of TV's top shows from 2001
to 2010, as Bauer raced against a ticking clock to foil plots
through guile, guns, gadgets, fists and controversially,
It won 20 Emmy Awards during its eight-season run, including
best drama series, Sutherland for best actor in a drama series,
and best writing for a drama. At its peak in 2006, "24" drew
nearly 14 million viewers on average.
LIVE SPORTS IDEAL
A major appeal for networks to draw audiences to watching live
is that later viewing on DVR has less value to advertisers.
By limiting a series to fewer episodes, it can create an
event-like draw akin to a sporting event or awards show, TV's
most-watched programs, said Brad Adgate, senior vice president
and research director for media firm Horizon Media.
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"You want to sit and watch it in real-time, you want to talk about
it on social media," Adgate said. "The ads can't be zapped. There's
a tremendous amount of upside."
Networks have also tried their hands at special live programing and
limited-run series to draw in viewers.
CBS' supernatural drama "Under the Dome," which will return in June,
led all scripted series in average viewers last summer with about 12
million an episode.
Fox's own cable network FX recently launched the event series
"Fargo," starring Hollywood actors Billy Bob Thornton and Martin
Freeman, as a reimagining of the Oscar-winning 1996 film. It drew a
respectable 2.7 million viewers live, but added 1.8 million in DVR
viewers over a three-day span.
NBC has had its own luck with the format, attracting 19 million
viewers to watch its live production last year of "The Sound of
Music," starring singer Carrie Underwood.
It will follow up with a live production of "Peter Pan" later this
year and the horror miniseries "Rosemary's Baby" this month, an
adaptation of the Ira Levin book that Roman Polanski brought to the
big screen with Mia Farrow in 1968.
"24" executive producer Evan Katz believes that since the show began
in 2001, viewing habits have changed to the point where committing
to watch 24 episodes on a week-by-week basis could be too much to
ask from an audience.
"I also think it is more special," Katz said on a media conference
call about reviving "24" as a limited-run series.
"It's not going to happen all the time. It's not taking place over a
year. This is a chunk of time. And it gives the network the
opportunity to put more oomph behind its launch."
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Peter Cooney)
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