Fox Television Stations has cut a broad renewal pact with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution that calls for four returning series to be reformatted to allow them to run seamlessly without commercial breaks between shows.
The renewal pact covers “Extra,” “TMZ, “TMZ Live” and “The Real.” Fox Television Stations will eliminate the traditional commercial break stuck between the end of one show and the beginning of the next. That will require some reformatting from Warner Bros. to incorporate series credits and production credit slates in a compressed-screen format that airs as part of the final seconds of the program rather than running in a traditional end credits.
The commercial minutes lost from the elimination of the break will be worked in elsewhere, either by adding more spots to the existing pods or by the addition of a new break within the program.
Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, believes that the end credits and commercials are a signal for viewers to tune out or surf around. The so-called seamless telecasts have become a staple of many national networks and cable channels.
“This is just a legacy that makes no sense anymore” for local TV, he said.
Fox Television Stations has already moved to seamless transition formats on shows that it produces in-house: “Divorce Court,” “Dish Nation” and “25 Words or Less.”
Abernethy’s hope is that all of Fox’s programs will eventually air seamlessly and that the hosts of each show will help cue up the next in their closing remarks.
“There’s no downside and there’s no increase in commercial time,” Abernethy said. The expansion of commercial breaks within the running time of the episode may draw some complaints. But Fox argues that viewers are less likely to leave a show in the middle than they are to tune out of commercials that air between series.
Abernethy praised Warner Bros. for its willingness to work with the station group on what is a priority for the company.
“Fox is a fantastic partner, and it’s clear that their support, alongside our award-winning producers and talent, has made a difference in our mutual success,” said Donna Redier Linsk, exec VP and general manager of Telepictures, which produces the four series.
Fox’s three-season renewal is a vote of confidence in entertainment newsmagazine “Extra.” This fall, the series launched its 26th season with a move to Fox O&Os in big markets, after 25 years on NBC-owned station. “Extra” also took on Billy Bush as its new host, ending nearly three years of TV exile for the host who was fired from “Today” in 2016 after the revelation of his now-infamous conversation with Donald Trump while the two were filming a 2005 segment for “Access Hollywood,” which Bush co-anchored at the time.
“TMZ” is now in season 12 while “TMZ Live” is in season 7.
Talk show “The Real” has been given a two-season renewal, taking the show through its eighth season in 2021-22.