For its 2009-2010 upfront presentation, Fox thinks it has solved both problems. First comes a big move -- adding another edition of its sturdy summer reality competition dance show "So You Think You Can Dance" to its fall lineup.
Key is that "Dance" will have a similar "American Idol" type of Tuesday-Wednesday schedule. In a phone press conference, Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Entertainment, said he believes the effort will maintain some consistency for viewers until "Idol" returns in January. The decision should also attract more women on those nights.
Company officials believe this will give Fox a strong fall reality show presence that other networks have, such as ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and CBS' "Survivor."
"Obviously, there is another dance show in the fall," Reilly says, acknowledging the competition. Is there a chance of burnout by adding another run of "Dance"? "Most competition shows have two cycles," he says.
A big surprise is on Friday: Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" is making a return, after low ratings for its Friday time slot. Its sometime companion show "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" wasn't so lucky. Fox executives supported the decision to bring back "Dollhouse," in part, because of the show's strong -- but small -- fan base.
Fox is scheduling more comedies: "Brothers," starring ex-NFL player Michael Strahan, will get an 8 p.m. start time Fridays this fall. The animated "The Cleveland Show," a "Family Guy" spinoff, will get an 8:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday time period.
Fox will add "Sons of Tucson," a comedy about three brothers who hire someone to be their father in midseason, which will come on Sundays at 8:30 p.m.
Two other midseason shows: Action drama "Human Target," which will get a special preview Jan. 17 after an NFL playoff game, will air Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. "Past Life", another thriller/ drama, will get the Tuesday 9 p.m. hour time slot.
Fox will add a late Saturday night comedic/roundtable talk show discussing the issues of the week with comedian Wanda Sykes hosting "The Wanda Sykes Show," the working title.
Fox is putting tremendous marketing weight behind "Glee," which will get a Wednesday 9 p.m. slot after "Dance" in the fall. The show will get a big premiere screening push running behind the performance finale of "American Idol" on Tuesday night, which for the last several years has been the biggest-rated night for a regularly scheduled TV series.
"That's an audience we cannot buy with marketing dollars," says Reilly. "We expect to see our summer tracking scores well above the other guys."
Although the "Idol" ratings have slipped, Reilly says the show now has a 69% rating advantage over the second-biggest-rated show, ABC's "Desperate Housewives" -- which, he says, carries the biggest rating gap between the first- and second-rated shows in TV history.
Concerning the growth of cable -- and big cable-rated shows such as TNT's "The Closer" -- Peter Rice, chairman of Fox Entertainment, says there are 75 network shows that deliver higher ratings than "The Closer."
Fox Prime-time Schedule: Fall 2009 (All Times ET/PT)
MONDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. House 9:00-10:00 p.m. Lie To Me
TUESDAY 8:00-10:00 p.m. So You Think You Can Dance (performance show)
WEDNESDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. So You Think You Can Dance (results show) 9:00-10:00 p.m. Glee
THURSDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. Bones 9:00-10:00 p.m. Fringe
FRIDAY 8:00-8:30 p.m. Brothers 8:30-9:00 p.m. 'Til Death 9:00-10:00 p.m. Dollhouse
SATURDAY 8:00-8:30 p.m. Cops 8:30-9:00 p.m. Cops 9:00-10:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted 11:00 p.m.-Midnight The Wanda Sykes Show (working title) Midnight-12:30 a.m. Animation Domination Episode
SUNDAY 7:00-8:00 p.m. The OT (NFL post-game) 8:00-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons 8:30-9:00 p.m. The Cleveland Show 9:00-9:30 p.m. Family Guy 9:30-10:00 p.m. American Dad
Fox Prime-time Schedule - January 2010
MONDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. House 9:00-10:00 p.m. 24
TUESDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. American Idol (performance show) 9:00-10:00 p.m. Past Life
WEDNESDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. American Idol (results show) 9:00-10:00 p.m. Human Target (January)/Glee
(spring) THURSDAY 8:00-9:00 p.m. 9:00-10:00 p.m. Fringe
FRIDAY 8:00-8:30 p.m. Brothers 8:30-9:00 p.m. Til Death 9:00-10:00 p.m. Dollhouse
SATURDAY 8:00-8:30 p.m. Cops 8:30-9:00 p.m. Cops 9:00-10:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted 11:00 p.m.-Midnight The Wanda Sykes Show (working title) Midnight-12:30 AM Animation Domination Episodes
SATURDAY 7:00-7:30 p.m. Animation Domination Episodes 7:30-8:00 p.m. American Dad 8:00-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons 8:30-9:00 p.m. Sons of Tucson 9:00-9:30 p.m. Family Guy 9:30-10:00 p.m. The Cleveland Show