MyTV Struggles in Debut Week

Sep 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

MyNetworkTV’s serial dramas ended their inaugural week with about 1 million total viewers each, leaving company executives to restate their commitment to the soap opera format and pledge to improve the ratings.

Both the 8 p.m. romantic series “Desire” and the 9 p.m. drama “Fashion House” suffered ratings declines between their Tuesday, Sept. 5 debuts and the end of the week.

In adults 18 to 49, “Desire” premiered with a 0.5 rating. As the week rolled on, ratings fell and the series ended with an average 0.4 rating in the age group. “Fashion House” started with a 0.6 rating and fell to a 0.5 average for the week in the demographic.

The first week highlights the risk that executives at parent company News Corp. took with MyNetworkTV, which was hastily spawned as a competitor to The CW. News Corp. won plaudits for quickly repurposing a lineup of English-language telenovela-style dramas. Now executives face the challenge of drawing viewers to serial dramas.

Affiliates are aware of the challenges, said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for the Katz TV Group.

“They are looking more to viewer acceptance and building on the viewer base they have now,” Mr. Carroll said.

Both shows saw audience erosion, with “Desire” dropping from 1.4 million viewers Tuesday to 947,000 on Thursday, a 27 percent decline. “Fashion House” premiered Tuesday with 1.6 million viewers and slipped to 1.1 million viewers on Friday, a drop of 31 percent.

Ratings for “Desire” are trailing dramas that premiered on The CW’s forerunners, UPN and The WB, last season. The UPN drama “Sex, Love & Secrets” premiered Sept. 27, 2005 with a 0.6 rating in adults 18 to 49 and 1.4 million viewers. The show was pulled from the air after three episodes. The WB’s family drama “Related” premiered last Oct. 5 with a 1.3 in adults 18 to 49 and 2.7 million viewers.

That shortfall may be partly attributable to English-language audiences’ lack of familiarity with the telenovela genre and the fact the shows are on a new network with a new station lineup.

The initial numbers don’t worry Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations.

“We’re not in the business of obsessing about one night or one week,” Mr. Abernethy said. “We’re committed to the model, committed to the format. Our job is to improve it hour by hour.”

Saying he has received a “great reaction” from MyNetworkTV stations, Mr. Abernethy said MyNetworkTV’s all-original programming format will provide stations with 625 hours of new shows for the season-more than The CW and UPN combined.

“We’re excited to be up and on and in the game,” he said.