Kevin Reilly Steps Down As Fox Chairman

The chairman of Fox, Kevin Reilly, will be leaving the network at the end of June, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A decline in ratings has driven the company to seek new upper-level management. Reilly’s successor has not yet been named, so the CEO of Fox Networks Group, Peter Rice, will be in charge for the time being.

Kevin Reilly released the following statement on Thursday:

“21st Century Fox is a great company that has provided me with choice seats at the head table of pop culture over two very rewarding stints both at FBC and FX, and I am grateful to have benefited from the leadership of Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch. Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while, and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the timing was as right as it could be. I couldn’t be more thankful to my team — a group of creative, tireless and fun people whose fellowship I will miss.”

The decision to replace Reilly came during a difficult period of time for the network, which, even after airing the Superbowl, failed to earn top ratings within its 18-49 demographic. Hollywood Reporter claims that Fox sat comfortably at the top of the demographic for nearly ten years in a row.

According to Forbes, Kevin Reilly was unable to adapt to the ever-changing world of television. Reilly’s network relied heavily on its once popular singing competition American Idol to makeup for ratings that other programs lacked. Forbes claims American Idol failed to pick up the slack, after losing half of its 20 million viewers last season. Reilly failed to oversee the launch of new hit shows, aside from Sleepy Hollow. Instead, Reilly trusted in comedies like The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and New Girl. The briefly popular Glee was one of Reilly’s initially successful risks, but it, too, has since slipped in ratings.

Another factor that could have contributed to Fox’s diminishing viewership could be Kevin Reilly’s decision to get rid of the pilot season, which is the time of the year when networks spend large amounts of money on original pilots, hoping to find the next hit show.

Reilly expressed his opinion of how television works in the following statement:

“The broadcast development system was built in different era and is highly inefficient. It is nothing short of a miracle that talent can still produce anything of quality in that environment. When they are competing, frankly, with a huge swath of cable that has a lot of flexibility and order pattern and flexibility in when the shows can go on, cable networks are able to course correct creatively and reshoot and recast.”

According to Deadline, Kevin Reilly originally joined Fox after briefly working at NBC and FX.

How do you think Fox will do without Kevin Reilly? And will we see Reilly running another big-name network soon?

[Image courtesy of Forbes]