The Miss America Pageant, which has been off network television since 2004, will return after signing a three-year deal with ABC, the Associated Press reports.
The network will air the 2011 competition live on Jan. 15, and will seek to gather as many former Miss America winners as possible (there are currently about 60 still alive.) The show had left network TV after ABC dropped the pageant due to low ratings, and since then the program had been aired on cable.
One of the forces driving the pageant back to broadcast was Sam Haskell, chairman of the Miss America Organization. For many year Haskell ran the TV department at William Morris.
This year’s competition, broadcast live on TLC, drew 4.5 million viewers, about 1 million more than for the 2009 pageant.
According to the article, ," ‘We were given a chance to re-brand, to keep what was traditional but make ourselves more today, and I think we’ve done that,’ Haskell said, adding, ‘No little girl walks around saying, ‘I want to be Miss USA when I grow up.’ She says, ‘I want to be Miss America’."