The televised singing contest, now 13 years old and dragging
on ratings for the network owned by Twenty-First Century Fox
FOXA.O, will start the season at two nights a week during the
auditions phase. But "it's quite likely it'll end up being a
two-hour show on one night through most of its run," Fox
Broadcasting Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said on a
conference call on Monday.
The move will cut Idol's hours to 37 from roughly 50 hours for
the season. The show reigned for several years as the
highest-rated program on U.S. television but has suffered a
sharp audience decline, down 19 percent this season to 12.2
million viewers on average, according to Nielsen.
Overall, Fox ranks second among viewers 18 to 49, the group most
prized by advertisers, and fourth in total viewers.
Fox, along with its broadcast rivals, is announcing its new
shows in an annual spring presentation this week known as the
upfronts, when networks try to persuade advertisers to buy
billions of dollars worth of commercial time for the TV season
that starts in the fall.
Fox's "Gotham," featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, follows a police
officer in the world of Batman and charts the origins of the
D.C. Comics superhero.
Last year, ABC brought a comic book movie franchise to TV with
"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," a spin off from "The Avengers"
movie. The show debuted strong with 12 million viewers, but
ratings fell and it now averages 5.9 million viewers, according
The ABC show is centered around SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson but
does not feature the superheroes that starred in "Avengers" on
the big screen.
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With Gotham, "the real selling point here is that these are actual
franchise characters," Reilly said, such as Batman regulars, Bruce
Wayne, the Penguin and the Riddler.
Rival NBC, during its pitch to advertisers on Monday, highlighted
several dramas involving cops and espionage, including "Allegiance",
a series about Russian spies, "Odyssey," which centers on a global
military conspiracy, and "State of Affairs" starring movie actress
Katherine Heigel as a CIA analyst.
The audience gave loud applause to a one-hour detective series
called "The Mysteries of Laura" starring "Will & Grace" star Debra
Messing and film actor Josh Lucas.
NBC is leading among 18- to 49-year olds, the group most prized by
advertisers, for the first time since the 2003-04 season. The
network is averaging 3.5 million primetime viewers in that age
group, up 17 percent from a year ago, thanks to hits including
singing competition “The Voice” and James Spader thriller “The
Blacklist,” according to Nielsen. It also received a boost from the
Winter Olympics in February.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)
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