The powers that be at Fox Broadcasting have made one thing very clear; more successful shows are required. Fox is coming off a rough season with a decline in both overall viewership and in the key 18-49 demographic.
Of all the new shows last season, only two survived. The horror drama “Sleepy Hollow” and the comedy “Brooklyn 99” are the only two shows that will be coming back after their first seasons.
Other popular shows, including “Glee,” “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project” and “American Idol” are returning to Fox this fall, but they are also suffering from lackluster ratings.
“We need some new hits. That will be our focus,” said Peter Rice, chairman and chief executive of the Fox Networks Group.
Rice has put some new blood in leadership positions at the Fox network after the sudden departure of Kevin Reilly, the network’s longtime entertainment chief. Reilly left after a dismal season and he had a not so spectacular reaction from advertisers to the upcoming fall schedule. However, Price said Reilly left Fox for his own reasons and was not due to the lower ratings of the previous season.
“He chose to step down,” Rice said.
Fox has now restructured its television operations. Gary Newman and Dana Walden, the co-chairmen of parent company 20th Century Fox Television, will be charged with the creative decisions at Fox.
Rice has placed Newman and Walden over Fox Broadcasting with the hope that the collaboration will make for better teamwork between the network and studio.
“We can open up a bigger tent for the creative community,” Rice said. He also added that the network now won’t be just another buyer in the eyes of 20th Century Fox Television, which sells to other networks.
Fox has high hopes for the upcoming season with the introduction of the new series, “Gotham”, a drama based on Batman. The show focuses on the early days of Commissioner Gordon, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman.
“American Idol” will also be returning. Rice said “American Idol” is still strong and aging gracefully. Fox is keeping judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. but is reducing the number of hours of the show to 37 over 50 last season.
“We’re depending on it less than we have in years past,” Rice said. “We haven’t found a group of kids that have captured the imagination of the public.”
Fox is one of the largest suppliers of prime-time television content.