Fox Records Stronger Fall Viewing, Cautious On Product Integration

PASADENA, CALIF -- Fox has had a resurgence in viewing so far this season, thanks to a high-rated World Series and a new drama, “Lethal Weapon.”

“We had our best fall ranking in five years, ” says Gary Newman, co-chairman/ CEO of the Fox Television Group, in speaking at the winter Television Critics Association meeting.  Newman says Fox was up 5% in 18-49 ratings, the only network to post year-to-year growth.

Using season-to-date Nielsen data -- now through January 8 -- Fox has risen to second-place among key 18-49 viewers through January 8. Fox is averaging 2.59 million 18-49 viewers (2.0/6) -- up slightly from the 2.53 million (2.0/6) a year ago. NBC is still way ahead this season at 3.5 million (2.7/9)

Newman also touts the performance of “Lethal Weapon” -- 11 million weekly viewers as surpassing all cable scripted shows -- only bested by AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”



Looking broadly at TV network production, a growing number of scripted TV shows on many traditional and new TV networks is having some effect on quality of TV shows, says Newman. “There are many new networks competing for the talent pool.”

(There are more than 450 shows now, versus half that amount five years ago.)

Many new networks offer on-demand programming -- not airing a show at a specific day and time -- are having a major effect. Traditional programming scheduling value continues to erode, especially when it come to lead in/lead out programs.

“The value of lead-ins is less significant than it use to be,” says Newman.

While many networks are changing some of the ways TV marketers interact with advertisers, Fox will continue to be more cautious.

“We continue to work with the agencies and the brands and talk about new ways brands can connect with our shows,” says Newman. “We are very careful about integrating brands into our shows. By and large, consumers want to experience, to immerse themselves, into our world and not have too many commercial messages in the body of our work... [That said] you’ll see a lot of off-air integrations and off-air connections.”

Evidence of that, he says, comes from a Samsung virtual-reality “prequel” to the pilot of the upcoming “24: Legacy.”

Concerning other changing advertising commercials in TV shows -- such as cable network trimming some commercial inventory recently -- Newman says: “We don't have any plans to reduce ad loads.”

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