Up Front About the Upfronts, Part 2: Where Does Fox Stand?
Next week, the major TV networks will announce their 2012-2013 schedules to a crowd of advertising executives in hopes that those executives will throw down a ton of money to run ads during the networks' programs. These sessions are known as the Upfronts, and they're where we'll all find out for good (mostly) what shows are renewed, what shows are canceled, and what new shows we can look forward to next year. It's, like, a really big deal you guys! So in preparation, we'll spend this week taking a look at each one of the five major networks by reviewing what they've done in the past year and predicting what's in store for 2012-2013. Today we're assessing Fox, which holds its presentation on Monday, May 14.
Where Fox stands now: Pretty tall, actually. Fox is on its way to another ratings victory in the 18-49 demographic (currently it's averaging a 3.2), even though its numbers are slightly down from last year. After CBS, Fox has the strongest core of shows (from a ratings and reliability standpoint), so it's a case of not needing to fix what isn't broken. Things are looking great for Fox moving forward.
What worked this year: Hey girl! Whatcha doin? Fox enjoyed a huge surprise with the early success of New Girl, adding another face to its arsenal with Zooey Deschanel and her bangs. But more importantly, New Girl is a successful live-action comedy! That's a department that Fox has been dying to establish, and now it has the chance to develop the comedy block it's always wanted. Ratings may be down for American Idol, but Fox should be happy that the singing competition is still one of TV's top shows and pulling in something like 16 million viewers a week. It's also been a good year for Fox PR thanks to a fan-friendly renewal for Fringe.
What failed this year: It's not often that a show that pulls in double-digit-millions of people is considered a flop, but The X Factor ate a plate of humble lasagna even though it ranked high in its time period(s). It's going to undergo a lot of changes during the off-season, but it's in danger of becoming irrelevant fast. Alcatraz and The Finder were duds, but they looked pretty good compared to Terra Nova and its Brontosaurus-sized budget. I think Fox also learned its lesson with multi-camera comedies, thanks to I Hate My Teenage Daughter.
What's ahead for Fox: Expect Fox to really push live-action comedies next season. It's got its foot in the door on the comedy front, but the network will need at least one of its 11 single-camera comedy pilots to develop nicely so it can finally join the rest of television with a comedy block of its own. With House on its way out and uncertainty surrounding Alcatraz and Touch, there's plenty of room for a new hour-long drama to step in and be the big cheese. Unfortunately, there isn't much in the works that sounds interesting.
What Fox should be careful with: Beware of doubling up on the over-produced singing competitions! All signs point to talent shows trending down, and though it might be tempting to throw lots of cash at The X Factor, the genre is getting way too crowded now that every network has its own version of American Idol.
Risky proposal that could pay off: Move Glee to Mondays where Fox has been weak for several seasons and blow out a four-show comedy block on Tuesdays, which are ripe for the picking. And maybe stay away from shows that cost a small fortune to make. But right now, it should be steady as she goes for Fox, which is looking like the network of the future.
What scheduling changes would YOU make if you were a Fox executive?
RELATED STORY: Up Front About the Upfronts: Where does NBC stand?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom
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