Magazine article Variety

Fox Faces the Music as Idol Takes Tumble

Magazine article Variety

Fox Faces the Music as Idol Takes Tumble

Article excerpt

NETWORK NEEDS

The success of Following spurs renewed focus on male-friendly shows as the net rebuilds its sked

Going in to the 2012-13 campaign, Fox was already in need of new hits, but the sense of urgency has been amped up due to the surprisingly steep decline of American Idol, a show that propped up the net for a decade.

Projected to finish in second place behind CBS among young adults after winning a record eight consecutive seasons, Fox finds itself in a time of transition - and that could mean some big changes in the fall.

Among the net's challenges is that there's not a lot of room on its 15-hour sked for growth potential when "Idol" (and its fall counterpart, The X Factor) takes up so much space. Adding to the clog, shows like Bones and Glee are doing well enough to stick around even though their best days, from a ratings perspective, are behind them.

After a few seasons that saw the net skew more female than it had in years, Fox appears poised to pivot back to its male roots. Most of its drama pilots and some of its highest-profile comedies seem geared for guys; the net's best new performer from this season, drama The Following, is a high-octane, edgy thriller that fares well with men.

As Fox prepares for fall, its biggest needs are strengthening Monday and Tuesday, where it ranks fourth in adults 18-49 this season. And since it has music contests eating up Wednesday and half of Thursday, Fox can improve on Monday and Tuesday only by rolling the dice on new stuff - adding perhaps as many as four new shows on the two nights alone.

Monday, where The Followinghas performed pretty well this spring but won't be back until next year, could see a pair of new dramas aimed at men. The possibilities include police-themed Gang Related, U.S. marshal tale The List and an untitled futuristic buddy cop show from J.J. Abrams.

If at least one of those shows manages to click in the fall, it could pair with The Following at midseason.

The possible comedy nights of Tuesday and Thursday are difficult to predict for Fox, and could well depend on what the competition does on Thursday. NBC's The Office is ending its run, so there will be no incumbent Thursday 9 p.m. comedy - an opening that Fox or CBS may seize upon.

Fox has a solid young Tuesday comedy hour in New Girl and The Mindy Project, and may want to move them to Thursday at 9 after The X Factor results show - although that plan would certainly go out the window if CBS shifted The Big Bang Theory to 9.

But if the comedies move to Thursday, where does Glee go? Weeknight options are limited if you want to keep it away from The Voice.

If Fox kept Glee on Thursdays and the comedy hour at 9 on Tuesday in the fall, it could go open Tuesday with a pair of new comedies - perhaps something loud and male, like the still-untitled Andy Samberg cop comedy, that could counter Voice and provide a decent leadin for New Girl. …

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