×

Fox Focus Is on Men for Fall TV Season

Network takes aim at core audience with action-dramas, edgy laffers

Fox, coming off a rough season, is returning to its roots this fall by making a more overt attempt at attracting men.

And this may be the opening the net needs, especially in drama, where it’s planning two new testosterone-tilting hours on Monday, a night where its rivals have increasingly gone female.

It’s also gunning for guys in comedy, and its Andy Samberg-Andre Braugher vehicle “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is among fall’s most promising new laffers.

After wearing the demo crown for eight years, it took a tumble last season and settled for second — down 18% in regular-program 18-49 averages (though still tied with CBS for first).

Its problems were widespread too, with declines of 15% or more on four of five weeknights. “New Girl” slid in its second season, while “Glee” and “Bones” declined further.

SEE ALSO: Will Andy Samberg and Fox Cop a Hit?

Of course, Fox’s fall fate hinges mostly on how “The X Factor” returns in season three. The music competition, which comprises all of the net’s Wednesday sked and half of Thursday, was down 20% in 18-49 last season (and “American Idol” followed with even steeper declines).

Fox still won Wednesday in 18-49 and was second to CBS on Thursday, but another year of declines could have it questioning whether it wants to devote so much sked space to both shows — something that limits its options.

Though it’s launching two dramas on Monday, Fox is smartly using “Bones” as a lead-in to “Sleepy Hollow” before it asks the vet to anchor Friday in November. Around the same time, after Fox’s coverage of the World Series, “Almost Human” will join “Sleepy Hollow” on Monday.

Fox has had a couple of spectacular Monday-at-9 fall failures in recent years — “Lone Star” and “The Mob Doctor” — but has scored with male shows there. “24” was a mainstay in the second half of the season, and “The Following” shined earlier this year — the net’s only real bright spot in the 2012-13 season.

Fox shied away in the past from going more male in the fall because it faces “Monday Night Football,” but other rivals have ceded the fi eld. ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” is roughly 70% female, NBC’s “The Voice” nearly 65%, and CBS has two comedies with female leads.

Of the two Monday newbies, “Sleepy Hollow” appears most promising.

In live-action comedy, Fox has momentum for the first time in years, and last season’s “The Mindy Project” could grow in season two. The Tuesday block looks improved with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Dads,” even if critics have already piled on the latter.

One to watch is midseason’s Chris Meloni-fronted “Surviving Jack,” which Fox may be eyeing to join “New Girl” after the Super Bowl.

With Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday largely staying pat, that leaves Friday, where Fox tumbled 24% last season.

Fox has flirted with moving “Bones” to Friday in the past, but this really is the right place for it — especially opposite reality and comedy shows on rival nets — and it helps Fox by opening up Monday.

Going forward, Fox has made it clear its intention to program year-round, with shorter-order series to help spice up quiet stretches, and some shows flowing in and out of summer.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)"

    Ryan Seacrest to Return for 'American Idol' Season 3 on ABC

    Ryan Seacrest will return as the host of “American Idol” for the music competition’s third season on ABC. Seacrest will also continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time radio show. He also serves as co-host and executive producer on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” as [...]

  • Julian Fellowes

    'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes on His Early Start as an Actor

    Julian Fellowes was all wrong for his time — at first. When he graduated from drama school in 1973, working-class dramas onstage were all the rage, and the aspiring actor struggled to get an agent. He eventually snagged a supporting role in “A Touch of Spring,” a West End comedy that required him to fall down a [...]

  • Mr Robot Final Season

    'Mr. Robot' Team Talks Sending the Hacker Drama Off in Style

    Creating shows in this golden age of television has pushed storytelling to new heights, bolstered network recognition with the debut of sole marquee series and driven top-tier talent to limited-event runs. But few of these hundreds of series to unroll over the past half-decade have also redefined an entire network while pumping out prolific content [...]

  • Emmy Contenders 2019

    Emmys 2019: Critical Last Looks on 'Game of Thrones,' 'Fleabag,' More Contenders

    With only days to go before the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, the final voting have long since been cast and counted. But hopes still abound for favorite series and performers. Here, Variety’s television critics look at the leading races, who’s going into the final stretch with some real heat and what they hope will [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 4", regia di

    Italian Commissions Offer Big Incentives for TV Productions

    Italian TV is traveling around the world as never before, and giving audiences a deep dive into the country’s locations. They range from storied cities such as Rome, Venice, Naples and Milan to classic countryside backdrops, including Tuscany and Umbria. There is also the southern sensuality found in Apulia and Sicily, and, of course, the [...]

  • DOWNTON ABBEY

    TV Ratings: NBC's 'Downton Abbey' Special Less Than Grand

    NBC aired its “Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event” special Thursday night to mark the release of the new “Downton Abbey” movie. However, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and co. would probably turn up their noses at the 0.4 rating and 2.8 million viewers the special achieved last night. It was beaten in the [...]

  • Glow Netflix Emmy Comedy Race

    'GLOW' Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Netflix

    The final bell is ringing for “GLOW.” The Netflix series has been renewed for Season 4, which will also be the show’s last. Series creators, executive producers, and showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch will return in those roles for the final season, along with executive producers Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann, and Mark Burley. The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content