Prison Break will air in two distinct chapters, while other series will be interrupted less often by reruns, as network seeks to minimize the impact of covering baseball playoffs and the World Series, while maximizing both franchises as promotional platforms.
In a move that emphasizes what it calls a “bimodal” approach to its primetime schedule, Fox will air the breakout hit, Prison Break in two chapters next season, wrapping one up before the baseball playoffs and starting up the second after the World Series. The network is also extending the back end of its season, ordering enough episodes to allow some shows to run beyond May and lead right into the premiere of Fox’s summer series.
“We want to extend both ends of our season,” said Peter Ligouri, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co., saying that all of Fox’s fall series will premiere in August.
Prison Break fans were frustrated with the fact that the serialized drama went into hiatus in November to allow Fox to cover baseball in November. To avoid a repeat of this problem, Fox is designing the series “with that break in mind,” Ligouri said, adding that even this season, the show didn’t suffer any significant audience loss as a result of the baseball-induced interruption.
Fox will also minimize the number of reruns interspersed among original episodes of The O.C. and a new drama, Vanished, next fall, Ligouri said. “We’ll have fewer interruptions than the competition,” he predicted.
As it works to minimize any viewer frustration over the disruptions caused by baseball each fall, Fox is also learning to use its fall baseball franchise to better promote its January series, Ligouri said, and will put that knowledge to use next fall. “We’ll use the playoffs to maximize our promotion to men,” he said, and then use the broader audience of the World Series to promote to women and younger viewers.
The network has already begun to prepare for a new reality franchise, On the Lot, set to premiere late next spring, Ligouri said. The show, produced by American Idol co-host Simon Cowell and Steven Spielberg, already hosts a website, www.onthelot.com, where wannabe producers can pitch their ideas. Contestants selected for the series will compete for a two-year development contract with Dreamworks.
Commenting on Johnson & Johnson’s announcement that it would sit out this year’s upfront buying season, Fox sales chief Jon Nesvig said the manufacturer has asked to be kept informed about the pace of the market, so it can jump in and secure the time it needs if it looks as though it won’t be able to do so in August, when it hopes to do its buying for next year. “They will participate in the upfront,” he said. “Timing is the question.”
Fox’s primetime schedule for the 2006-07 television season features three new dramas and two new comedies.
The new dramas premiering this fall are VANISHED and STANDOFF from 20th Century Fox Television and JUSTICE from Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer. The new comedies scheduled for fall debuts are the Brad Garrett comedy ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œTIL DEATH from Sony Pictures Television, and HAPPY HOUR from writers Jeff and Jackie Filgo (That ’70s Show) and Warner Bros. Television. Fox also has a new entry in the Saturday late-night arena, TALK SHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN, which debuts Saturday, Sept. 16 (midnight-12:30 a.m. ET/PT) following MADtv. In addition, DUETS, a four-week unscripted series executive-produced by Simon Cowell, will air on Thursdays and Fridays prior to the Major League Baseball playoffs.
A fourth new drama, THE WEDDING ALBUM from Fox Television Studios and 20th Century Fox Television, will launch in January. 20th Century Fox Television’s THE WINNER—the first live-action comedy from FAMILY GUY’S Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt—is also set to premiere at mid-season. Finally, ON THE LOT, an unscripted series from Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg, will debut next spring.
Fox series returning include 24, AMERICAN DAD, AMERICAN IDOL, AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA STRIKES BACK, BONES, COPS, FAMILY GUY, HOUSE, KING OF THE HILL, THE LOOP, MADtv, NANNY 911, THE O.C., PRISON BREAK, THE SIMPSONS, TRADING SPOUSES: MEET YOUR NEW MOMMY and THE WAR AT HOME.
“This is the broadest, most stable and most vibrant schedule we’ve ever presented—one that is sure to help us further our lead as the No. 1 network in key demos,” Liguori said. “Once again, we’ll kick off with early premieres to eventize our launches and establish our series before baseball. We’ll also continue our strategy of extending the end of the current season, making for a truly year-round schedule.”
Liguori went on to say: “We’ll have returning shows every night of the week. And in January, 24 and AMERICAN IDOL, along with the BCS games during the first week of the new year, will allow us to launch additional series and reposition ourselves for another dominant second-half surge.”
Following is the Fox primetime schedule for 2006-07:
8-9—PRISON BREAK/STANDOFF (Beginning Jan. 2007)
9-10—VANISHED/24 (Beginning Jan. 2007)
8-9—STANDOFF/AMERICAN IDOL (Beginning Jan. 2007)
8-9—BONES/JUSTICE (Beginning Jan. 2007)
9-10—JUSTICE/IDOL RESULTS & IN THE LOOP (Beginning Jan. 2007)
8-9—NANNY 911/BONES (Beginning Jan. 2007)
9-10—TRADING SPOUSES: MEET YOUR NEW MOMMY/THE WEDDING ALBUM (Beginning Jan. 2007)
9-10—AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA STRIKES BACK
Midnight-12:30 a.m.—AM TALK SHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN
7-7:30—FOOTBALL OVERRUN (COMEDY ENCORES)
7:30-8—FOOTBALL OVERRUN/KING OF THE HILL (Beginning Jan. 2007)
9:30-10—THE WAR AT HOME