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Ecks Factor: Analyzing FOX

Two weeks ago, I started the first of a 5-part series, analyzing the  main networks and their current successes and failures. More failure  than success, excluding the mighty CBS. This week, it's all about FOX,  the network that went-for-broke this year in terms of both drama and  comedy, vowing to put an end to their reputation as the American  Idol/Cartoon network. Did it work? Let's take a look, night-by-night:

MONDAY

8pm House
9pm Alcatraz

Latest Ratings - Feb.27
House - 6.97 million / 2.3 (18-49) demo
Alcatraz - 5.96 million / 1.8 demo

House Season Averages
Season 1 13.34 million
Season 3 19.95 million
Season 5 13.62 million
Season 7 10.32 million

THOUGHTS

This is the end of what began as a simple medical drama with a cranky  star. It premiered in 2004 following the Richard Branson reality  series, The Benefactor. Or was that the Mark Cuban one? In any event,  FOX hoped that House would reap the benefits of the hit reality  series. Instead, Richard Branson's reality series flopped hard, while  House grew week-to-week with viewers intrigued by the mystery malady  of the week investigated by the perpetually grouchy Dr. House (Hugh  Laurie). Then it blew through the ceiling once paired with American  Idol and took off in the ratings, never looking back until its fifth  or sixth season.

It seems unnecessary to analyze its ratings, dwindling as they are, so  let's focus on the show whose future is in serious question: Alcatraz.  From J.J. Abrams and starring Sarah Jones and Lost's Jorge Garcia,  Alcatraz focuses on the escaped prisoners of the Alcatraz prison that  disappeared decades ago, only to re-appear now, ageless and full of  bad-doings. Dropping a million viewers and a half a ratings point from  House is hardly working in its favor. Fortunately, FOX has cancelled  the ultra-high budgeted Terra Nova, leaving it up to Alcatraz, The  Finder and Touch to carry the drama series mantle next season, which  at this point, will only be carried by Glee and Bones (unless FOX  feels charitable and renews Fringe). The Finder's downfall may prove  to be Alcatraz's second chance. Can FOX reasonably cancel over half of  their schedule? Possibly, but I doubt it. They need some recognizable  series next season. Even if it's a Friday dweller, Alcatraz will  likely be back on those numbers.

TUESDAY

8pm Raising Hope
8:30pm I Hate My Teenage Daughter
9pm New Girl
9:30pm Breaking In

Season Average Raising Hope
Season 1 - 6.40 million

Season Average Breaking In
Season 1 - 8.24 million

Latest Ratings March 20
Raising Hope - 3.78 million / 1.6 demo
I Hate My... - 2.92 million / 1.2 demo
New Girl -  5.18 million /  2.7 demo
Breaking In - 2.84 million / 1.3 demo

THOUGHTS

It's hard to imagine FOX justifiably going for another all-comedy  block next season after this brief and disastrous affair for the last  few weeks. New Girl, the lone bright spot on the schedule, is doing  its usual thing by performing exceptionally well amidst the sinking  ship of Tuesday night on FOX. It's hard to analyze something that is  working so well. Sure, the numbers alone aren't hot, but it's pulling  a high 2 in the 18-49 demo while all others are floundering in mid-to -low 1s. Zooey Deschanel is safe for next season.

Raising Hope is in the same boat it's always in: it's not flourising,  it's not sinking. Raising Hope is that little show a few choice  critics seem to love, but audiences aren't hot for it. Still,  canceling 75% of their comedy slate isn't happening. They'll give  Raising Hope a third season, if only to inch closer to a syndication  deal.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter is a moot point, pulled from the schedule  and having a snowball's chance in hell of a return.

Breaking In is that huge, monumental mistake FOX made that they can't  possibly admit to immediately. But let's face facts: the news is bad.  Real bad. Christian Slater is staring down the barrel of his third  straight television failure. Whoever agreed to renew Breaking In  should lose their job. A low ratings performer isn't going to come  back and score huge numbers for no reason at all. What was a dead fish  is still a dead fish in the water. No chance for another reprieve.

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY

8pm Wednesday - American Idol

8pm Thursday - American Idol Results
9pm Thursday - Touch

Season Average American Idol
Season 1 9.85
Season 2 26.50
Season 5 35.53
Season 6 37.44
Season 8 30.45
Season 10 26.23

Latest American Idol Ratings March 21/22
Wednesday Mar. 21 - 17.21 million / 5.1 demo
Thursday Mar. 22 - 15.58 million / 4.2 demo

Latest Touch Ratings March 22
Touch - 11.81 million / 3.3 demo

Touch Premiere Ratings (Jan. 25)
11.87 million / 3.9 demo

Touch Premiere Repeat Ratings (Mar. 15)
8.67 million / 2.2 demo

THOUGHTS

American Idol has turned into the little engine that could, a far cry  from the unstoppable runaway smash from a few years ago. Ratings are  undeniably going down. Are fans tiring of the perpetually nice  comments from Steven Tyler, J-Lo and Randy Jackson? Have The X Factor  and The Voice taken a big bite out of the singing competition pie once  enjoyed solely by Idol? Are fans fed up with a certain type of singer  always winning, over the superior talents of others?

Wednesday, Idol pulled 17 million viewers on Wednesday and a 5.1 in  the 18-49 demo. Let's be honest: it's still big, will be for a few  more years. But damage is irreparable. Seacrest and the crew have been  hemmoraging viewers since roughly 2007. Will FOX ever cancel the show  in the next five years? Probably not. It'll regenerate and renew  itself each year. Eventually it'll go away forever, but for now, FOX  is happy when January rolls around.

Touch is an interesting story. Premiere ratings were solid in January,  with 12 million viewers and a 3.9 in the 18-49 demo. Then last week,  premiering in its regular time period, the repeat of the pilot scored  8.67 million viewers and a 2.2 in the demo. That's huge for a repeat  of a series premiere from two months ago. Then on Thursday past, it  barely lost any of its debut numbers, scoring 11.81 million viewers.  unfortunately, the 18-49 demo dipped from 3.9 to 3.3. Still, the  prognosis is good. It should squeak out a few more healthy numbers for  score a second season renewal.

FRIDAY

8pm Kitchen Nightmares
9pm Fringe

Latest Ratings February 24
Kitchen Nightmares - 3.48 million / 1.5 demo
Fringe - 3.09 million / 1.2 demo

Season Average Fringe
Season 1 10.02
Season 2 6.25
Season 3 5.83
 

THOUGHTS

**NOTE: I am ignoring Friday, March 23rd numbers as they seem to be affected across the board by the huge opening day for The Hunger Games. Or that's what FOX is hoping.** The new wasteland of television is Friday nights. The decay of  Saturday nights has spread a night early and left networks with very  few options for the end of the week. Some opt for crime dramas (CBS),  others opt for unscripted fare (ABC), while FOX is going for food  drama and sci-fi.

The Gordon Ramsay train is chuggling along with summer hit Hell's  Kitchen and season regular Kitchen Nightmares. Sure, no one jumps for  joy at 3.48 million and a 1.5 demo, but it's consistent. It's  something FOX can depend upon for Friday nights. Coming in a few  months is Hotel Hell, so FOX isn't severing ties anytime soon with the  fast-talking cranky chef.

Fringe, on the other hand, has blown through rock bottom, as evidenced  by the 3.09 million people who watched on February 24th, and the 1.2  demo it pulled in the key demographic. FOX has been adamant in trying  to make Fringe a hit. I want it to be a hit. Every fan of Fringe wants  it to be a hit. Never going to happen. If FOX does renew Fringe for a  fifth and final season, it'll be at a loss to the network. They're not  making money. To renew it once more for a syndication deal would be  unnecessary. It has never and will never be The X-Files.

It was a year ago this week that Fringe received a fourth season  reneweal. I just don't see the same happening. Not at all. FOX will  keep the spot warm for Alcatraz next fall.

SUNDAY

7:30 The Cleveland Show
8pm The Simpsons
8:30 Bob's Burgers
9pm Family Guy
9:30 American Dad

Latest Ratings March 18
The Cleveland Show - 3.27 million / 1.5 demo
The Simpsons - 5.24 million / 2.4 demo
Bob's Burgers - 4.39 million / 2.1 demo
Family Guy - 5.67 million / 2.8 demo
American Dad - 4.61 million / 2.2 demo

Season Average The Cleveland Show
Season 1 6.39 million
Season 2 6.09 million

Season Average Bob's Burgers
Season 1 5.07 million

Season Average American Dad
Season 1 7.1 million
Season 3 6.6 million
Season 5 5.9 million
Season 6 4.7 million

THOUGHTS

Where do you start with FOX's Sunday night animation domination?   First, the bad news for veteran favorites: ratings are down for The  Simpsons and Family Guy. Peter Griffin and the gang still reign  supreme on the night, but it's a far cry from when he hit 4s in the  18-49 demographic. Same for The Simpsons, pushing twenty-five seasons.  But they are the pillars that hold Sunday nights together. Someday,  before Family Guy, The Simpsons will end. And FOX will be ready for  it. It's not if, but when.

So what about the supporting players of the night? American Dad is  nothing but consistent for FOX. Move it all around the schedule, and  it always does marginally well. It's never going to be The Simpsons or  Family Guy, but it gets the job done. Cancelling American Dad now  would be a terrible decision on FOX's part. To a lesser extent, The  Cleveland Show is the same, but fans never really warmed to the idea  of Cleveland Brown with his own show. There were so many better  options in the Family Guy universe. In fact, the best part of spinning  him off are the sporadic appearances he now makes on Family Guy.

So, outside of Seth MacFarlane and Matt Groening, we still have a few  options left. Current inhabitant Bob's Burgers seems to fit in fairly  well, attracting a 2.1 in the key demo out of The Simpsons' 2.4 demo.  That is solid retention. Of all the outsider cartoons, Bob's Burgers  is the only one with a leg up, thanks to being in its second season  currently. Should they give it a third run?

On the other side, there's Napoleon Dynamite. It's going to come down  to one or the other. With The Flintstones waiting for a 2013 debut,  and too many other moving parts to its animated lineup, they can't  afford both Napoleon Dynamite and Bob's Burgers. And Napoleon Dynamite  pulled in its own respectable ratings. Not to mention it has a popular  2004 film to give it extra exposure. It'll always be "Hey, it's a  cartoon based on that movie!", whereas Bob's Burgers is starting from  scratch.

If it came down to either one, I would go with Bob's Burgers. It's a  better fit to their current schedule, and it has a tad more experience  going for it. Unless they plan on expanding their animation lineup,  something FOX has done before and failed at, it'll be the end for  Napoleon.

Thankfully, FOX has already long since canned Allen Gregory, the  tragically unfunny series starring Jonah Hill. Big surprise.

**************

LAST THOUGHTS

FOX is the "throw it at the wall and see if it sticks" network. They  really fired on all cylinders this year, airing Terra Nova, Alcatraz,  Touch, The Finder, New Girl and Napoleon Dynamite, a diverse group of  hits and misses if there ever was one. Sure, most of those won't make  it, but it's the thought that counts... no wait, that only applies for  cheap birthday gifts. What counts is that FOX tried to expand their  lineup with a wide arrange of new programming. Sometimes it clicked  (New Girl, Touch), sometimes it didn't (Terra Nova, The Finder). But  more often than not, it didn't. Does that mean more safe, boring fare  next year? I hope not. Love the shows or hate them, FOX tried this  year. They win the prize for Most Dynamic and Diverse Programming.

*************

TUBE NEWS

-CBS went to hell with themselves, renewing the majority of its  schedule for next season, including 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, CSI,  Blue Bloods and How I Met Your Mother. Rob Schneider is currently  sitting by his phone waiting for the call. Hey Rob, there's always the  horribly offensive side characters in Adam Sandler flicks!

-NBC renewed both Grimm and Smash for second seasons. Guess which show  title best describes NBC's future!

-MTV renewed Jersey Shore for a sixth season. How can you pass up on  "Four Guidos, Four Guidettes and a Little Guidbaby"?

-The CW released its first image from The Carrie Diaries' pilot episode, starring AnnaSophia Robb. Spoiler alert: the series finale  will feature a shocking twist ending in which Sarah Jessica Parker  murders AnnaSophia Robb and assumes the Carrie Bradshaw role. How else  do you explain Robb turning into Parker in twenty years?

That's all for this week's look at FOX. Next week, things will be done  differently as I analyze CBS. Because they renewed most of their shows  this week, I'll take a look at which shows should move where in the  fall.

Until then, stay tuned.

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Total Comments: 2
Bluebomb
Bluebomb    Mar 25 2012 3:21pm
Some thoughts:

Raising Hope - I disagree with you on RH. The average rating for RH in the demo this season is quite respectable, good enough for a 3rd season renewal. Its syndication chances only apply when it's aiming for a 4th season.

Breaking In - Even I, a loyal viewer of the show thinks that they shouldn't have brought this back. While it was nice to break the Slater curse, it still didn't justify the terrible ratings it brought airing after American Idol. The show didn't work either; the humor just couldn't cut it.

American Idol - You know that 'Jumping the Shark' moment? Well, it was when Taylor Hicks was crowned the American Idol. People have said that Season 5's top 5 was the most talented ever and yet the winner to come out of that group was probably the least marketable out of all of them. Each of the rest of the top 5 had more attention or a better storyline. Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry and Paris Bennett were the frontrunners of the season and Elliott Yamin was the underdog. Who here remembers Paris Bennett's Take 5 audition or Chris Daughtry's Hemorrhage or Katharine McPhee's Somewhere Over the Rainbow or Elliott Yamin's A Song For You? Taylor's win was pretty much the downfall of the show in my opinion. Season 6 started off high thanks to the super talent found in Season 5 but it was a pretty lackluster season with only a couple of standouts. By then, America wasn't interested with producer shenanigans or Paula/Simon's on-off romance. They continue to bleed into Season 7 where the fabricated David/David battle created no tension or suspense as we were led to the *pre-determined* final. From there, it couldn't regain the magic of the first 5 seasons and continued to slide till now.

Touch - Who here doesn't want to see Jack Bauer race against the clock to save/stop an event from happening through the numbered teachings of his son? Touching and kick ass all in the same show. It'll get renewed for sure.

Fringe - Wow if that is what FOX is hoping for Fringe. I like this show a lot and hope to get another season for closure. But its ratings are terrible. Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst.

Alcatraz - I can't see this getting saved only to be put on Friday's. It's not going to get any better in the ratings so a move to Friday renewal is useless. I'm leaning towards cancellation here.

NBC - I would say Grim(m). Even Smash is turning into a Grimm-like show with weak ratings (still good ratings for NBC but terrible on anywhere else).
Karl Schneider
Karl Schneider    Mar 26 2012 1:42pm
Love all the compiled ratings information, especially the way you break it down season to season.