The competitive landscape on Wednesday changed last night when NBC’s summer flagship America’s Got Talent relocated its original telecasts there from Tuesdays. In its first outing on the new night, the talent competition series drew a 2.3 in adults 18-49 from 8-10 PM, down just a tenth from its last Tuesday airing. Interestingly, the increased reality competition seemed to boost the other 8 PM unscripted offerings — both CBS’ Big Brother (2.3) and Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (1.1) were up from last Wednesday by 10%. Big Brother tied AGT as the highest-rated program of the night in 18-49. The arrival of AGT had a major impact on the race at 10 PM. With an original AGT lead-in vs. a repeat previously, NBC’s acquired drama Taxi Brooklyn (1.1) shot up 38% to a series high. That pushed down the other two original dramas in the 10 PM hour. In Week 3, CBS’ Extant (1.1) was down 27% from last Wednesday, while ABC’s Canadian import Motive (0.6) was down 25%. Both series hit lows. NBC won the night in 18-49 (1.9) and total viewers (8.6 million).
Kicking off NBC’s TCA presentation, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the renewal of summer reality series America’s Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior and Last Comic Standing. The pickups join the recent renewal of medical drama Night Shift, which turned from a summer burnoff to a breakout, tying CBS’ Extant as the highest-rated new series debut this off-season.
Greenblatt underscored NBC’s ratings success during the season, reminding everyone that the network finished 2013-14 as No.1, and did so again for the summer. NBC has won every week other than the two that ABC had with the NBA Finals, which Greenblatt in a lapse called “the NBC finals.” Last Comic Standing returned for an eighth cycle this summer after a four-year break, the second time the show has been revived. AGT is in its ninth season, averaging a 3.1/10 in adults 18-49 and 12.4 million viewers. Last Comic Standing is averaging a 1.7/6 in 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers. American Ninja Warrior, which is shared with corporate sibling Esquire, is delivering a 1.8/6 in 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers.
NBC is taking new ABC singing competition Rising Star very seriously, using heavy artillery against the debut of the new reality series this weekend. NBC has slotted an original of its strongest summer series, veteran America’s Got Talent, which airs Tuesdays, directly opposite the two-hour premiere of Rising Star from 9-11 PM on Sunday. But the Peacock didn’t stop here: NBC just announced a special daredevil stunt throughout Sunday night, which is being billed as “Show-Stopping Sunday.”
Both stunts, hosted by AGT judge Howie Mandel, will aim at breaking Guinness world records — for fastest jump over three moving cars and the highest shallow dive into fire. They will be chronicled in the form of interstitials that will air during American Ninja Warrior, which airs from 7-9 PM and AGT from 9-11 PM. Such stunting is vintage Jeff Bader. One of his first moves after jumping from ABC to NBC to head scheduling in 2012 was to add a third, Wednesday installment of The Voice‘s premiere week to go head-to-head against the hyped Season 2 premiere of Fox’s The X Factor that introduced new judge Britney Spears. The stunt didn’t go very well with X Factor boss Simon Cowell, who called it “a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business.” But it worked in taking sizzle away from the X Factor debut.
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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NBC will bring out the next season of American Ninja Warrior on Monday, May 26, 8-10 PM, and America’s Got Talent the next night, Tuesday, May 27, 8-10 PM. Talent is returning with its judging/host cast intact — an increasingly rare occurrence on reality competition series these days, NBC having announced last November that Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel were returning as judges on the summer competition series, though Stern had made sure he was the headline by announcing his return to the show 24 hours ahead of the NBC announcement. Breaking the news on his SiriusXM radio program, Stern was sure to let listeners know he’s the BFD on AGT, saying, in response to radio sidekick Robin Quivers’ question as to whether Klum, B, and Mandel would be back: “Let’s put it this way: When they asked me if [returning] was conditional, I said … let them all come back.”
Meanwhile, NBC to air originals of Ninja and Esquire Network will run repeats, like last summer.
The news that Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel were returning as judges on NBC‘s summer competition series America’s Got Talent came complete with carefully crafted quotes from the network’s reality-TV chief and the show’s exec producer. The announcement was greeted with — yawns, Stern having made sure he was the headline by announcing his return to the show 24 hours ahead of the NBC announcement. Breaking the news on his SiriusXM radio program, Stern was sure to let listeners know he’s the BFD on AGT, saying, in response to radio sidekick Robin Quivers’ question as to whether Klum, B, and Mandel would be back: “Let’s put it this way: When they asked me if [returning] was conditional, I said … let them all come back.” Here’s the full release:
NEW YORK, NY — Nov. 20, 2013 — Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel are set to return as judges to NBC’s top-rated summer competition series “America’s Got Talent.” Nick Cannon will also return as host.
The announcements were made by Paul Telegdy, President of Alternative and Late-Night Programming, NBC Entertainment.
“Howard, Heidi, Mel and Howie have proven that they are a dynamic quartet of judges who aren’t afraid to share their opinions, while at the same time creating fireworks of their own,” Telegdy said. “Along with Nick serving as an incomparable host, our talent on ‘Talent’ is among the finest on all of television.”
“The judges on ‘America’s Got Talent’ this past season were fun, astute and really knew how to spot talent,” said Trish Kinane, Executive Producer and President of Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. “We are delighted to have this vibrant group of diverse, discerning personalities returning to take the show to new heights next season.”
FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell and Sony’s Syco Entertainment are launching one-stop-shop YouTube channels for the Got Talent and X Factor franchises. Although the various versions around the world — 55 for Got Talent and 25 for X Factor — have their own dedicated channels, the new outlets will draw fans to a single destination for the first time. That’s eyed as a big opportunity for brands to target a massive worldwide audience in one place. Each channel will curate viral clips from the local shows, which Fremantle and Syco say number in the billions of views per year. The companies will also produce original content including spinoffs and roundups. Here’s a teaser: