National Not Crucial For Fox Summer Tests

Fox is testing three shows that are a good fit for its stations, and that make financial sense for Fox and its syndication partners, even if the shows don’t roll out nationally. “If these shows don’t go into national syndication and they work for us, and we can afford to do them, I don’t care if they’re on anywhere else,” says Frank Cicha, SVP of programming at Fox Television Stations.

Fox Television Stations is taking a new approach to launching syndicated TV shows. It’s not just test running them in the summer as it has since 2008 with Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and as it’ll do this summer with three shows: Monday-Friday daytime strips Hollywood Today Live and The Daily Help Line and weekly nighttime show Laughs.

Fox is producing the shows on its own. And it’s producing shows that it feels are a good fit for its stations and that make financial sense for Fox, even if the shows don’t roll out to other stations, as they would with a typical syndication rollout.

“If these shows don’t go into national syndication and they work for us, and we can afford to do them, I don’t care if they’re on anywhere else,” says Frank Cicha, SVP of programming at Fox Television Stations. “These shows look good, they have energy and they’re affordable.”

Right now, Fox airs two TMZ spinoffs from Warner Bros. that air almost exclusively on its stations: TMZ Live, which debuted in 2012, and TMZ Sports, which debuted this year.

“This is where syndication is going,” Cicha says. “All the big-budget projects are failing and TV station groups are getting bigger. Going forward, syndication will be less about clearing a show in 90% of the country.”

Fox will test its new Monday-Friday strips for six weeks this summer. Laughs will get a 13-week test. However, the shows that do well could debut this fall or sooner.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

In some markets, Fox will use Warner Bros.’ TMZ or Wendy Williams as a lead-in to help launch the daytime shows. Wendy, as it did last year, will remain in production most of the summer.

“We have good platforms to put these shows behind,” Cicha says. “If they don’t click, you’ll know pretty fast. That’s one of the reasons we’re testing as many shows as we are. We have shows in daytime with [good] ratings to help launch these shows.”

Hollywood Today Live is an entertainment newsmagazine with online personalities Kristen Brockman, AJ Gibson, Tanner Thomason and Porscha Coleman. The show from BiteSize Entertainment will air from a glass-enclosed studio at cross streets Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles.

“The cast is young,” says Cicha. “If it clicks with younger viewers, it will eventually click with older viewers.”

The Daily Help Line will have viewers and in-studio guests asking therapists and celebrity guests for advice on issues like relationships and addiction. Miles Adcox and Spirit will co-host the show.

Meantime, Laughs from YouTube star Steve Hofstetter will be a showcase for stand-up comedians and people just acting funny.

“Some of our MyNetworkTV stations are very competitive on Sunday nights with comedy blocks with shows like The Big Bang Theory,” says Cicha. “Laughs will probably lead out of those blocks.”


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