Three-year deal includes reality-esque profiles

TLC has signed a three-year deal to carry “The Miss America Pageant” for the first time, adding the new wrinkle of a reality series that will profile the contestants during the weeks leading up to the Jan. 26 event.

Calling the deal “a multimillion-dollar partnership,” Sam Haskell III, chairman of the Miss America Organization, said TLC will give the two-hour primetime event “the proper promotion and attention it deserves.”

The pageant’s previous network, CMT (Country Music TV), dropped it after only two years despite holding the TV rights until 2011. Haskell said there were no hard feelings about the CMT cancellation.

The “Miss America Pageant” telecast has lost viewers each year since 2001, when ABC averaged 13.6 million. Over the next three years on the Alphabet, the total-viewer number dropped to 12 million, 10.3 million and finally to 9.8 million, at which point the net declined to renew it. On average, more than half of the pageant’s viewers are 50 or older.

Last year, its first running the pageant, CMT drew 3.06 million viewers; that number tumbled to 2.39 million in 2007.

TLC has climbed aboard the Miss America caravan as part of its move to schedule more general entertainment programming to complement its lineup of reality shows such as “What Not to Wear,” “Little People, Big World” and “Miami Ink.”

TLC prexy-general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes is spearheading the entertainment strategy.

The net’s first pageant cablecast will take place live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

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