Deadbeat ‘Daddy’?

Advertisers pass on low-rated Fox spec

After weeks of hype, Fox’s unscripted special “Who’s Your Daddy?” turned out to be a ratings dud — and an ad sales orphan.

In a sure sign most advertisers wanted nothing to do with the controversial “Daddy,” Monday’s 90-minute broadcast — in which thesp T.J. Meyers (“The Whirlpool”), playing herself, was reunited with her birth parents — featured just a handful of national ad spots.

Instead, Fox, which declined comment on the ad sales for the show, filled the time reserved for advertising with numerous, often extended promos for upcoming skeins such as “Jonny Zero” and “Point Pleasant.” Local affils also appeared to get extra ad time, which in Los Angeles meant lots of ads for Carl’s Jr.’s Frankensteinlike “breakfast burger.”

Of the few spots from major national advertisers, most seemed to be from studios hyping upcoming feature releases. There was also one ad for a toilet bowl cleaner.

It’s not surprising Madison Avenue didn’t beat down Fox’s doors in an attempt to snag spots on “Daddy.”

Many advertisers abhor even the hint of controversy, and for weeks “Daddy” has been the subject of vocal criticism from adoption groups who denounced the special (even though they hadn’t seen it). And while upscale reality skeins such as “Survivor,” “The Apprentice” and “America’s Next Top Model” command premium coin, reality skeins such as “Daddy” traditionally face a tough time receiving top ad dollar.

UPN found itself in a situation similar to Fox last summer with “Amish in the City,” which bowed with few big advertisers and a slew of promo spots for the net’s new fall fare. Once the skein bowed to solid ratings — and positive critical response — advertisers returned.

“Daddy” may not be so lucky.

Skein (2.3/6 in 18-49, 6.30m) left Fox a distant fourth from 8 to 9:30 p.m., although there was a noticeable spike in the final half-hour for the controversial reveal. It was the net’s worst firstrun perf in the time period this season.

Seven additional episodes of “Daddy” have been shot, but given the ratings and ad sales perf for the first episode, it seems unlikely those segs will end up on air anytime soon. However, Fox execs encouraged by the final half-hour spike may be curious to see how “Daddy” would do on a night without as much firstrun competish.

Monday’s episode of “Daddy” did not reveal the fact that Meyers is an actress. It’s not surprising, however, given that a number of reality contestants also work as TV and film actors. One of the most recent winners of CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” Chip McAllister, had appeared in several feature films.

(Rick Kissell contributed to this report.)