While it wasn’t a great summer for new reality shows, veteran fare allowed most nets to squeak by. Here’s a look at how the Big Four’s reality efforts did during the warm-weather frame:
It was easily the most impressive net of summer, thanks to a smart schedule that made the most of existing hits “Hell’s Kitchen” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Both came back as strong as ever, and gave Fox the breathing room to try out some new fare.
Net did best with gameshow/variety skeins. Late spring hit “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” stayed in session during summer and proved to be a good fit with “Dance” on Thursdays. Fox also used “Dance” to launch “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” which did well enough to return in the fall.
But while Fox won’t forget “Lyrics,” it would love to erase the memory of “On the Lot.” Some media outlets touted the Mark Burnett-Steven Spielberg collaboration the blockbuster of summer, but it turned into the dud of the frame.
After an awful spring, the Peacock showed a pulse during summer. Holding “America’s Got Talent” for summer was a smart choice, as was injecting energy into the skein by adding a new judge (Sharon Osbourne) and host (Jerry Springer). “Last Comic Standing” did fine, though the concept seems to be wearing thin with auds. And “Singing Bee” added some diversity to the sked, and will be returning in the fall.
Net’s main misfire was “Age of Love,” a relentlessly touted “Bachelor” ripoff that scored disappointing — but hardly disastrous — ratings.
A sked filled with crime repeats means CBS can afford to be a bit less ambitious than other nets. It also helps that “Big Brother” remains a solid player, giving the Eye three hours of reliable ratings. Numbers would be even better if the net moved the adult-themed skein out of the 8 p.m. slot it occupies on two nights.
Eye execs are also probably regretting ditching the cult fave “Rock Star” for a new Burnett skein, “Pirate Master,” which shivered few timbers and was pulled midrun. Arrrgh!
The jury’s still out on quizzer “Power of 10.”
It’s no wonder entertainment prexy Steve McPherson recently said he’s considering original scripted shows for next summer. Every single reality show the Alphabet tried this summer — and it tried a lot — tanked.
Something’s wrong when your best summer original is “Just for Laughs,” a “Candid Camera”-style clipshow imported from Canada. The good news: ABC was horrible last summer, too, but still did well in the regular season.