Fox Boss Offers a Simple Fix for Network’s Ratings Woes

Jul 21, 2014  •  Post A Comment

With a new executive team guiding the Fox Network, the head man spelled out in fairly simple terms what the network needs to turn around a grim ratings situation.

"Fox is coming off a season in which it endured steep declines both in overall viewers and in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers covet," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Only two of Fox's new shows from last season — the horror drama 'Sleepy Hollow' and the comedy 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' — survived."

Meanwhile, Fox shows including "Glee," "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" suffered ratings declines during the 2013-14 season, along with the closely followed decline of "American Idol."

Appearing Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour, Fox Networks Group Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Rice put it succinctly: "We need some new hits. That will be our focus."

"Last week, Rice installed a new leadership team at Fox Broadcasting in the wake of the surprise departure of Kevin Reilly, the network's longtime entertainment chief," the Times notes. "Reilly left at the end of May after the network finished a disappointing season and unveiled to advertisers a fall schedule that was met with lukewarm reaction."

Rice said of Reilly's exit, "He chose to step down," dismissing the suggestion that his exit was related to the network's ratings struggle.

"As part of a broad restructuring of the TV operations at parent 21st Century Fox, the creative decisions at Fox Broadcasting will now be overseen by Gary Newman and Dana Walden, the co-chairmen of 20th Century Fox Television, the studio that is one of the largest suppliers of prime-time television content," the Times notes, adding: "Rice hopes that by putting Newman and Walden over Fox Broadcasting it will make for better teamwork between the network and studio."

The network is betting heavily on the Batman prequel "Gotham" for next season, the report notes, adding: "It also has high hopes for a new drama called 'Red Band Society' that is best described as 'Glee' meets 'The Fault in Our Stars' about high school kids struggling to keep their spirits up while dealing with life-threatening illnesses."

Fox also continues to have a lot riding on the success of "Idol," the story reports.

"Although last season's finale drew just over 10 million viewers and the median age of the show's audience is over 50, Rice said 'American Idol' is still strong and aging gracefully," the Times notes. "Fox is keeping judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. next season but is reducing the number of hours of the show to 37 from more than 50 last season."

Added Rice: "We're depending on it less than we have in years past."

peter rice.pngPeter Rice

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