This is the second part of a series of posts. Read Part 1 if you missed it.
The "Idol" decline
in particular is going to be bad news for Fox, which has a eight-year streak winning the
18-49 demo largely on the back of its supernova franchise. Network chief Kevin Reilly already acknowledged at TCA that Fox will likely cede that demo crown to CBS. Making the unusual move of publicly projecting his own loss isn't going to help ease suspicions that he senses a hole opening underneath Fox–and it will be squarely on him to dig his way out coming fresh off a promotion that makes him
both chairman of the network and overseer of an unscripted division that
didn't report to him up until now. That means if "Idol" doesn't recover and "Factor" doesn't improve, he'll be the only one to answer for that.
Reilly is also making a risky bet by introducing a new two-hour Tuesday comedy block complete with two new half-hours alongside returning hit "New Girl," which
may very well scale new heights in its sophomore season but was a ratings "hit" in its
freshman year in the loosest sense of the word. Even if "Girl" props up "The
Mindy Project" at 9:30 p.m., the 8-9 p.m. combo of "Raising
Hope" and "Ben and Kate" could prove wobbly enough to make Fox
regret shipping "Glee" off to Thursday, where the once buzzworthy series is transitioning to a new split-city narrative format. "Goodwin Games" might want to root for "Mindy's" demise just so it has the best possible chance for success.
Elsewhere on Fox's fall sked, it's hard to see where there's any growth opportunities. On the drama side, "Fringe" is almost done, "Bones" is solid but not getting younger, and it's hard to see "Touch" popping on Friday after a ho-hum first season. Look for "Mindy" will be
Fox's only fall survivor especially when you take into account drama "The Mob
Doctor," which will get crushed instantly in the same brutal time period
that walloped "Lone Star" two years ago. Add to that a Monday that
will be challenging in the fall to say the least, and you do have the makings
of a schedule that could see some serious softening.
Thankfully, there's some good
pre-season buzz on midseason drama "The Following," which is going to
need to really pop. Regardless, perhaps the biggest unsaid question of the fall
is not whether Fox is going to fall–even Reilly sees that coming–but just how
Still, even the worst case scenario probably wouldn't put
Fox in danger of slipping so far as to lose second place to ABC or NBC. In
truth primetime can really be separated into two separate races: the battle for
the crown and the battle to stay out of last place. Nevertheless, if the story
of the 2012-13 season can be reduced to one sentence, the death of the
unscripted competition format may very well end up taking a backseat to the
peak of CBS, which seems to not only get stronger with every passing season but
spreading the wealth of that strength across its schedule like no other
network–certainly not Fox, which is about to find what happens when strength
comes from too many eggs in one basket.
More on the other networks' fortunes in Part 3 of this blog post series coming tomorrow.