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Upfronts: ‘Gotham’ Impresses as Fox Talks ‘Next-Generation’ Approach

After a tough season in the ratings, Fox put the emphasis on the re-engineering of what Kevin Reilly dubbed “America’s next-generation network” at its upfront Monday, held at Gotham’s Beacon Theater. And there was barely a mention of “American Idol,” the tentpole that collapsed this past season.

Fox entertainment chairman Reilly and ad sales chief Toby Byrne both touted the network’s traction on nonlinear platforms and the advantages offered by VOD. Reilly cited stats noting that at much as 30%-40% of the audience for younger-skewing shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Mindy Project” are coming from streaming and VOD.

Byrne was forceful in his remarks to the roomful of media buyers, telling them that as viewing patterns change, advertisers should accept C7 ratings as currency for deals. “We need to have a meaningful discussion about C7 for our business today, and tomorrow,” Byrne said.

Reilly closed the presentation with words that would have seemed like sacrilege just a few years ago: “Nonlinear (viewing) is just as important as the main channel,” he said.

Reilly also pitched the buyers on the network’s new approach to year-round pilot development and focus on limited series. He gave a big pitch early on in the presentation to two limited series on deck: “Gracepoint” and “Wayward Pines.”

Reilly got a bigger response from the crowd to the clip of “Gotham,” the Batman prequel, and a teen soap that was billed as in the vein of “Glee” and “90210,” “Red Band Society.”

New comedy “Mulaney” was described by Reilly as having “the makings of a ‘Seinfeld’ for a new generation.”

Ambitious reality show “Utopia” — in which 15 strangers are set to a remote location for a year to build a society — got a big push at the start of the presentation.

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