TLC has announced that it won't renew its deal to run the Miss America Pageant, the one-time major TV event that fell on hard times over the past decade.
"We are happy that TLC was part of the modernization and revitalization of the Miss America pageant," the cabler said in a statement. "This year we delivered record ratings, besting any of it's prior performances on cable. However, our three year deal has concluded and we have chosen not to renew. We wish the Miss America Organization well."
Miss America has been struggling to find its relevance ever since NBC dumped the pageant after 30 years in 1997 — embarking instead on a relationship with Donald Trump and Miss USA.
ABC picked up Miss America in 1997, but watched it continually decline — and finally dropped the pageant in 2005. After that, CMT stepped up to save the event, running it in 2006 and 2007. TLC then took it over for the last three years.
The Miss America Organization has taken several steps in trying to revive the event — moving it from its longtime Atlantic City base to Las Vegas in 2006, for example. The TLC run was also tied to a reality competition last year, but that reality spinoff didn't continue this year.
Like most recent televised events, Miss America has indeed seen a ratings uptick: The 2010 edition averaged 4.5 million viewers in January, up from 3.5 million in 2009 and 3.6 millionin 2008. The pageant averaged 2.4 million on CMT in 2007.
Insiders noted that Miss America was brought in by former TLC topper Angela Shapiro, who's no longer at the network. Also, the special is not cheap — and the cabler may have decided that it wasn't worth the pricetag, even with improved ratings. (It's also believed that advertisers haven't made an effort to be a part of the pageant, given its older demographics.)
TLC is also in the midst of a brand readjustment, aging down its audience — and Miss America was probably seen as a property that no longer completely fit with the channel's direction.
The latest Miss America, Caressa Cameron from Virginia, was crowned on January 30. Didn't hear about it? Exactly.