Blah ad sales results for the network, although it could have been worse considering how much Fox‘s ratings fell last season — especially at former juggernaut American Idol and other shows including The X Factor and Glee. The dollar volume for the primetime season that begins in the fall fell from last year’s nearly $1.8B, we’re told. The price per thousand viewers rose anywhere from 2.5%-3.5%, and Fox sold somewhere between 75%-80% of its inventory, about average. Multiple agencies bought spots based on the number of viewers who watch them over a seven-day period after their air, up from the conventional three days.
‘American Idol’ Season 14: J.Lo, Keith Urban & Harry Connick Jr Returning As Judges; Ryan Seacrest Back As Host
No big surprise here: Fox said tonight that its principal on-camera folks will be back on American Idol next season. Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. will return as judges and Ryan Seacrest will host the show’s its 14th season. Seacrest closed his deal in May — two days after Fox announced the series renewal — and Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reported last month that the judge trio was likely to be back. “Jennifer, Keith, Harry and Ryan are the very best in the business at what they do, and I’m thrilled that they are returning to American Idol for another season,” said David Hill, Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox. “Each brings unique qualities and expertise to the team, but they all share the same passion for helping undiscovered singers achieve the American dream.” The singing reality competition wrapped its 13th season May 21 down from the previous year.
Reality Check: Trish Kinane On ‘American Idol’ Ratings, Simon Cowell & Harry Connick Jr & The Next Big Thing
Some people truly love a challenge. When FremantleMedia named Trish Kinane the President of Entertainment Programming, North America in July 2012, the Brit reality veteran not only took over executive producer duties on Fox’s American Idol but also The X Factor and NBC’s America’s Got Talent. In short, mega-properties each. Since then Idol has gone through a number of changes, Simon Cowell’s X Factor has closed up shop in the U.S., and AGT has come back this season solid. Formerly Fremantle’s president of worldwide entertainment and based in the UK, Kinane comes from both the indie and network world with tenure at Action Time and Channel 4. The EP of two of the heavyweights of reality TV believes Idol took a hit from the Winter Olympics on NBC, that honestly is the best policy for judges, and that tech made Idol possible. She also has something new cooking, maybe the next big thing.
DEADLINE: Last year at a speech at NAB, you spoke of Idol as being the gold-standard show in terms of format and how the series was one of the first to adapt interactivity with viewers since it debuted in the summer of 2002. A lot has changed since Idol premiered.
TRISH KINANE: I think Idol is the, sort of, classic gold-standard format, in terms of these music shows, and I still do. It’s the simple story, it’s the simple transition of a kid from nowhere who comes through the process, and ends up, hopefully, not always, but often, in the case of Idol, having a career. Having said that, you know, you’ve got to do things, you’ve got to keep it fresh, you’ve got to try to keep it relevant. Last year, there were problems with the panel, which I think were fairly public, so we put a new panel in place. The panel for the last season has been incredibly successful. We wanted people who knew what they were talking about, people who had a right to be there, people who could offer genuine advice to these kids, people who really cared about these kids, and I think in Harry, Keith, and Jennifer, we’ve absolutely got that.
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While the docureality genre has exploded on cable over the past decade—thanks to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, Jersey Shore and the various Real Housewives—the reality competition field has been incredibly stagnant with the same veterans ruling the field year after year. In the 11 years since the category was introduced, only 10 series have been nominated, five as many as seven times. The Amazing Race alone has 11 straight nominations and nine wins.
Since the competition category was expanded from five to six slots in 2011, there has been only one change, when The Voice replaced American Idol on the list of nominees in 2012. The Voice went even further last year when it became only the second show to upset The Amazing Race and win the Emmy. But with the drought in the competition reality genre continuing with no new breakouts in the past year (ABC has high hopes for its summer entry Rising Star), a major shakeup in the roster of nominees is once again unlikely. Here’s how this year’s crop of all-too-familiar contenders stands:
The Age Effect
The first singing show to win a reality competition Emmy, and only the second ever to beat The Amazing Race, The Voice is a relative newcomer. Youth is on its side as, at three years of age, it is at least five years younger than its main competitors. For the first time, it is the show to beat.
The Amazing Race, CBS’ globe-trotting series, has nabbed the Emmy nine out of 11 years, only bested last year by The Voice and in 2010 by Top Chef. It is still a gold standard, and a nomination is all but guaranteed. But it also is the oldest among the top contenders. Would it be able to reclaim its Emmy crown?
Singing reality shows will have a smaller presence on Fox next season. In addition to the axing of The X Factor in February, the network’s veteran American Idol would air fewer hours in its recently picked up fourteenth season. (American Idol had been airing about 60 hours a season.) Discussions are still under way but I hear we will likely see a mix of one show per week and two editions, which had been the case since the show’s start in 2002. While the air pattern will likely change next season, the stars of American Idol are expected to stay the same. Ryan Seacrest just closed a deal to return, with current judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. are in different stages of negotiations and are all likely to come back. Airing one episode a week is not that unusual for a singing competition — that is how The Voice started in Season 1 before expanding to a second night the following season.
American Idol, just renewed for a 14th cycle, will return with its original host. I have learned that Ryan Seacrest has closed a new deal to continue on the Fox reality series, which launched his TV career. I hear his contract is for the next season with an option for another. Seacrest remains in discussions with NBCUniversal, where his wide-ranging deal spanning Today, the Olympics and E! also is up. He will likely reach a new agreement with NBCU, though its scope is still in flux because Seacrest is busy on so many fronts. He also has a major deal with Clear Channel, where he has his radio show and has been involved in the iHeartRadio franchise as host and producer.
Even with the ratings declines, there had been no doubt that American Idol would return next season. Fox has made it official, announcing auditions in 15 cities for Season 14. Host Ryan Seacrest had been in negotiations to return. For the past three years, American Idol had alternated with The X Factor on the midseason and fall schedule. With The X Factor cancelled, Fox might use another unscripted series, like new social experiment Utopia, in the fall.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
They packed a lot of action into last night’s 2-hour live American Idol (1.8/6) on Fox with visits from New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel, Jason Mraz’s debut as a mentor and the final Top 5 belting out tunes picked by viewers (including according to judge Keith Urban an “awesome” rendition of Whitesnake’s Still Of The Night). However, after seeing upward traction last week, last night’s singing competition fell 14% from its April 23 episode. As preliminary ratings stand right now, Idol hit an all-time Wednesday low last night, though that could change in adjustments later today.
The other long-running reality show of the night might not have seemed as busy as Idol, but Survivor (2.2/7) did have an immunity idol, an auction and of course someone went home from the Tribal Council. That said, the show dipped 4% from last week. In preliminary numbers that’s a season low for Survivor but the show commonly adjusts upward a tenth in the final numbers so don’t be surprised if there’s a change there too.
Ryan Seacrest will split his allegiances on May 1 when Fox‘s American Idol, which he hosts, airs against NBC‘s iHeartRadio Music Awards, which his company produces with Clear Channel. The programs involve all three of Seacrest’s major employers: Fox, where he has been making $15 million a year hosting Idol; NBCUniversal, where he has a wide-ranging deal spanning Today, the Olympics and E!; and Clear Channel, where he has his radio show and has been involved in the iHeartRadio franchise as host and producer. Two of the three deals — the Fox and NBCU ones — are coming up in the next few weeks, while the Clear Channel radio pact has another year on it. It seems neither Fox nor NBC has objections to Seacrest promoting programs that compete against each other as both companies are looking to extend their relationship with him. Seacrest is near a deal with Fox to continue on Idol, which is set to return for a 14th season next year despite its ratings slide. He also is expected to reach a new agreement with NBCU, though its scope is still in flux. Seacrest has a long history at both places, which launched his TV career, and loyalty has marked a lot of his business decisions so far.