Fox Latenight’s ‘Axe Cop,’ ‘High School USA’ Open to 1.5 Million

Saturday debut of 15-minute animated series equals first-year demo average of FX's 'Archer'

Fox’s new latenight block of short, animated comedies — under the banner “Animation Domination High Def” — opened to decent numbers Saturday, especially for mid-summer.

The preliminary Nielsen estimates supplied by Fox on Sunday did not break down the performance of the 15-minute premieres of “Axe Cop” and “High School USA,” but the half-hour averaged a 0.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.5 million viewers overall. Prior to Sunday, Fox’s summer averages in the 11 p.m. half-hour with repeats of “Hell’s Kitchen” were a 0.3 rating in adults 18-49 and about 1 million total viewers.

By comparison to some latenight cable animated series, Fox’s 0.5 for “Axe Cop” and “High School USA” matches the first-season average of the initial telecasts of FX’s “Archer” in the same 11 p.m. half-hour during the 2009-10 TV season. In total viewers, “Archer” averaged nearly 1 million viewers.

Adult Swim has seen its shows range from a 0.3 to a 0.8 (“Robot Chicken” being on the high end) over the past two seasons. The most recent season of “Children’s Hospital” on Adult Swim averaged a 0.6.

Fox is hoping to expand its success with animated comedies beyond Sunday nights and sees Saturday latenight as a fertile ground for seeding new concepts.

The net will be expanding the ADHD block beyond its current 30 minutes but is waiting for the 11 o’clock half-hour to establish itself before it sets premiere dates for additional shows.

The ADHD block figures to benefit later this summer from the return of football to Fox. The guy-geared cartoon comedies, for example, should be able to attract lots of new eyeballs on the Saturdays when Fox’s college football telecasts wrap in the 10 o’clock ET hour.

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