Fox execs on 'American Idol,' 'Fringe' moves: 'It's the right moment'

Once CBS moved Survivor off of Thursdays, Fox knew it had to make a move. That’s how the net execs explain their decision to change the American Idol lineup from Tuesdays and Wednesdays to Wednesdays and Thursdays in January. “We’ve been thinking about this move years because Thursdays are so lucrative and so important to the network and the sales division,” explains Mike Darnell, Fox’s head of reality programming. “As a network, we’ve never been able to conquer that night. We’ve tried in some way for 20 years but we’ve never had anything big there. Once they moved Survivor out of 8, which was the last surviving reality show in that timeslot, that got [head of scheduling] Preston Beckman thinking that now is the time to do it. Other than The Big Bang Theory, there really is not much on. “

He’s got a point there. Big Bang has continually won its timeslot in adults 18-49 and viewers (14.84 million) this season but it’s lead-out, $#*! My Dad Says, hasn’t exactly held onto every last one of those Theory fans (11.54 million). Still, CBS’  new comedy that stars William Shatner has been able to dominate at 8:30 p.m. because it airs opposite a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy and 30 Rock, which has never been able to muster a big following.

“That timeslot looks ripe, it’s the right moment,” explains Darnell, who also goes onto explain why Fox abandoned the idea of airing a 30-minute results show. “If you are going to attack Thursdays, you need to attack it with your biggest piece because that’s the only way anyone has ever won on that night. And if you are going to make this move, you have to have an hour show. You can’t go in with a half hour. The new format and the things happening with the show are going to make that hour make much more sense.”

And what about those new changes? Even though exec producer Nigel Lythgoe has been out there discussing a change to the top 24 and having contestants do music videos, Darnell insists that nothing has been set in stone for the new season. “First of all, while are going to be making changes to the middle round, we wouldn’t go with no top 24. That has not been decided. We’ve talked about a lot of things and yes those middle rounds are going to be different, but it’s not like there is not going to be a top number of contestants for the audience to vote down to a top 12.”

As for Fox’s other big newsmaking move – shifting Fringe to Fridays – Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said he hopes fans don’t think he’s putting the show out to pasture. “We are not killing the show. Over the last week, over 45 percent of the audience time-shifted the show. That’s almost half of the dedicated audience watching it on their DVRs. It’s been such a loyal fanbase. I will be really disheartened if the viewer base decides to not watch because it shifted one night. I hope they go with it, and if not they have the option of picking it up on their DVRs. If it does anywhere near what it did on Thursdays, we can glue that show to the schedule because it can be a big win for us.”

Comments (137 total) Add your comment
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  • Kendall

    Well, I certainly won’t be tuning in. Idol should have ended when Simon left.

    • Kaiulani

      Totally agree. Have no interest in watch AI anymore. LOVE Fringe!!!! I will also follow it to anywhere, but wish more people knew that it is the best show on TV.

      • nikkido

        Now I can watch Gray’s Anatomy and not DVR it. Fox’s loss. I stopped watching AI 2 season’s ago.

      • don’t watch idol, idol is lame

        WATCH FRINGE THO!!!

    • musica1

      I don’t think Simon’s leaving is a reason to quit watching. He’s been useless for years. A lot of the other changes they’re making (like putting more of the results in the hands of the producers) are more reasons to stop.

      • Brandy

        Having the producers have a larger play in the results is actually a good idea. It prevents sites like Vote for the Worst having some terrible singer win or have a situation like DWTS.

    • Shannon

      Ditto! I stopped watching American Idol 2 years ago. I certainly won’t have it messing around with my Thurs line up.
      And why is Fox talking like they have nothing on that’s good on Thurs–Hello, what about Bones?!?!? That is a Fox show isn’t it?!?! And it’s good the last I checked.

      • RCB

        I think they’re saying Fox hasn’t won that day/timeslot, not that they don’t have a good show on that day.

  • AT

    Small request Fox… ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE.

    Let people know that Fringe has moved. Don’t leave that 55% wondering where a show they like has gone.

    • Alex

      ITA, but I don’t trust FOX

    • Stef

      Absolutely. They really need to show that they care about this show by spreading the word and getting people interested in it and willing to follow it to Friday.

      Personally, I will be DVR’ing it AND watching it live when I can. I hope it helps, I love the show!

      • Julie

        Then I really hope you have a Nielsen box, because otherwise that really won’t actually help the show.

      • Ruby

        Nielsen is an outdated system that should go. It doesn’t actually mean anything! Fringe could have tons more viewers, but the networks will never know it. Their loss (and by extension ours, if the show gets canceled).

      • thin

        Hi Ruby, you may be surprised to find out that statistics still functions quite well even in this crazy modern day and age in which we find ourselves. If you look into it at all, you will no doubt be amazed to discover that it is not necessary to monitor literally every television in existence to be able to determine the percentages of people watching the shows on them.

      • Mike

        I’m pretty sure the networks observe more than the Nielsen ratings these days. Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, FOX.com whatever….clearly Kevin Reilly is aware if he is talking about the time shifted audience and being okay with it for Fringe. I just hope he’s not ALL TALK. I know FOX has always been in Fringe’s corner but this move to Friday is scary!

      • pedro

        all of we who likes fringe must keep watching and watch it live if possible, to keep or get rates better. We need to keep at least the numbers we have.
        keep there tv’s on Fox even if you dont watch it on that time or you’re going out, the least we can do is stay on the right channel. and ask your friends…
        FRIGE ROX

    • Abe Froman

      Advertising is one thing. But do you really think the audience for this show isn’t savvy enough to find it when it moves?

  • mesa

    People complain when Fringe is in a competitive slot, and then when its on a Friday. When is good? At least there’s a chance the DVR viewing becomes live on Fridays.

    • Stef

      The reason we complain is because Friday night is typically the “graveyard night” for shows to die, because no one is home to watch the shows. Thursday night was too intense, and Friday night could mean they’ve lost confidence in the show. Its original timeslot, Tues @ 9:00, was perfect.

    • Ruby

      People are pissed because Fringe is going where shows commonly go to die. :(

    • Dave

      People complained because Fringe aired on Tuesdays during its first season where it performed well (average 9-10 million viewers). And then for some reason, Fox decided to try and fix what wasn’t broken and move it to a highly competitive timeslot on Thursdays where the ratings began to slide.

      • Shaun

        Exactly, Dave. Fringe did quite well on Tuesdays, then they stuck it in a terrible slot that killed the ratings. Moving it to Friday is no better because it’s the least watched night of TV. Expect the ratings to slide even further. This is why it’s often called “The friday Death Slot.” FOX has a long history of canceling sci-fi shows that get dumped to Fridays. X-Files which started on Fridays but then got moved to a better night (and saw its ratings skyrocket) is the only one that ever survived Fridays.

  • bubbatwo420

    Fringe is the best show on TV so I don’t care where it goes. Fox Execs needs to not only promote the hell out of this move but also need to renew the show for a full next season to keep our confidence high. Right now, Fringe moving to Friday sucks but it’ll be a nice companion to Supernatural.

    • DotDotDot

      Yes! Give Fringe a renewal already. Put the money where your mouth is Fox and show us you’re not abandoning the show. If networks would stand by their own shows, maybe more people would too. So many (myself included) hesitate to get attached to a show because they come and go so fast. They have no loyalty to their own products so why should we. Fringe is excellent and I’ll watch it to the end, which I really hope is not soon. Don’t let us down, Fox!

      • Dan

        Renewing it now doesn’t mean anything. They could always change their minds and rescind the episode order. We just have to continue watching Fringe on Thursdays as it is and when it goes over to Fridays, continue watching over there.

      • Shaun

        The one thing in Fringe’s favor is that it’ll need a fourth season to get close to 100 episodes, often considered the “magic number” to make syndication viable. Fringe has the potential to be one of those shows that people discover in syndication (ala the original Star Trek), so let’s hope.

        Let’s also get behind the show, talk it up with people, and buy seasons 1 & 2 on DVD or BR for friends and family this holiday season!

        As I write this, Amazon’s got season 1 at a really nice low price ($18!). I’m buying some.

    • Dave

      I’m starting to think they should move FRINGE to the FX channel. That would give it more leeway with language and subject matter. It could have multiple airings throughout the week. And if it kept close to its current ratings that would be a good number for cable.

  • sidsy

    wow. that’s the first thing I’ve read about the fringe move that really makes me feel confident about the show. And I’ve read like…everything. lol. My fb status is pretty much permanently dedicated to telling my friends to watch Fringe.

    • Anjali

      Haha… me too!!! Mega mega fan!!!

  • Anjali

    Ok people. The writing is on the wall. We just need to watch LIVE on Fridays starting from Jan!!!!!!

    • a

      You people realize that even if you watch it live it won’t make a spec of difference unless you have a neilson box right?

      • MC

        I used to have a nielson box just last year, but because i moved, they don’t follow you, so unfortunately my ratings no longer count for fringe, which has been the best show on TV for the past two years. i really think they need to change/update the ratings system, as i’m sure a lot of shows get cheated.

      • thin

        No, they really don’t.

      • topoopon

        Seems to me, in a world of digital cable boxes and the world wide web, there would be a more modern way to gather ratings statistics.

  • PBMom

    I’m not tuning in either after so many years of being a major AI fan. The last good year they had was with Adam Lambert. Last year was horrid. Talent is tapped out and no Simon: No American Idol.

    • Soup Fan

      Who?

  • QuoteGirl

    I really hope they stick with their word this time around (Seeing as their September promise not to screw with Fringe has already been blown to pieces).

    Getting Fringe glued to Friday nights wasn’t what I was hoping for, but if it gets us a season 4, I’m all over it.

  • JC

    Yes, please FOX, please advertise that you’ve moved the show. Do it all December and January. I don’t care if it’s every commercial break, drive it home so the non-loyal followers know where it went and don’t give up.

    • mesa

      The FOX/Fringe graphic at the end of the promos are so awesome I’d watch it every commercial!

  • Pamela

    I’m a HUGE Fringe fan & I’ve NEVER been an American Idol fan so I’m ticked that Fox moved Fringe because of it. Regardless of what day Fringe is on I’m watching. I watch live & I have an Amazon VOD subscription. Love the show & definitely have been promoting it every chance I get. I can honestly say with passion that if Fox cancels Fringe, I’ll NEVER watch Fox again.

    • Ruby

      I can honestly say that too. I’ll repeat: if Fringe gets canceled, I am NEVER watching FOX again.

    • Heather

      That’s exactly what I came here to say. No more Fringe and I tune out of FOX forever.

  • Emeri

    Arghhhh. This move is going to take away ratings from all the awesome 8:00 Thursday night shows like Vampire Diaries, Community, and Big Bang Theory. Well written shows like that with hardworking, talented actors and actresses deserve ratings wayyy more than brainless reality TV like AI.

    I feel bad for Fringe fans as well…

  • Melody

    I DVR everything, so I don’t care what night it is on personally, but I know that there is a stigma to being on Friday nights and I hope that doesn’t cause problems for Fringe. It was easy enough for Supernatural and Smallville to switch.

  • Norma

    I am happy to find some indication that Idol will be airing again. I really miss it. I will be looking forward to seeing it regularly again!!!!

  • Chip Ramsey

    I guess Fox has little respect for Bones. I would have put AI up against Grey’s Anatomy.

    • AL

      Agreed.

    • Luiza

      I think this is better for Bones! Bones is normally shuffled around so much during American Idol season! At least now it is scheduled in a slot that AI isn’t going to be messing it up.

      • Jill

        You mean the time slot right after AI, when it constantly runs a few minutes long, and sometimes airs a two hour special just for the hell of it?

      • Dave

        Correct, Jill! At least the new firmware in the Time-Warner DVRs seems better able to handle those little timeshifts, and I’ll have it add 10 minutes to the end time just to be sure.

  • bamalam

    Am I the one a little more worried about the ratings for Community because of American Idol moving to Thursdays…

    • Meghan

      You certainly are not. It was already cruel enough to put it up opposite Big Bang Theory…

    • WTF?

      You should have been worried about that when CBS moved The Big Bang Theory back in Spetember! This just continues the Community push-down, sorry to say.

      • toonaspie

        NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

        I cant bear to have Community get canceled because of a bad timeslot. Why not switch timeslots with The Office? That show is on its last legs anyway.

    • Jamie

      Your not alone, I just keep saying to myself over and over again “Nothing can do well in that timeslot against both AI and TBBT. NBC knows that. Right? They know that. They’ll renew Community no matter what the ratings are. Right? Oh please NBC don’t Cancel community” At this point I begin to cry. I’ve gone a little crazy, but what can I say, a show as brilliant as Community deserves to stay on the air.

      • dawnomite

        i am with you, fellow community lovers. :) i hope its loyal fanbase extends to some network execs who leave it on the air no matter what.

    • Rain

      That’s the first thought I had! I’m curious how much cross over there is between AI and Community fans. I don’t know anyone that even watched AI so hopefully it won’t affect the ratings too much.

    • anonymous

      I used to watch both, but now I only watch Community.
      A) I’m tired of watching a popularity contest where fans seem to vote based on a high school rubric with such stellar criteria as “Girls must look like they only consume 500 calories a day – guys are okay as long as they’re my type.”
      B) Results shows are boring anyway. I’d watch Community and skip over for the second half of the show even if I WERE still watching Idol.

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