Fox, NBC turn to familiar faces to boost viewership

Fox and NBC are looking to stars who were on TV when it looked like this.
Fox and NBC are looking to stars who were on TV when it looked like this to boost their fall show rosters.

Broadcast networks Fox and NBC are turning to proven favorites to lure new viewers next season, with Fox rebooting the defunct Kiefer Sutherland action series “24″ and NBC bringing back Michael J. Fox in a comedy loosely based on his life.

The two networks pitched their TV schedules to advertisers Monday at the start of the upfronts, an annual rite when broadcasters try to persuade advertisers to shell out billions of dollars in advance for their new shows.

NBC and Fox need new hits to fill out their lineups, which may explain why both are bringing back stars from the past.

Primetime ratings at News Corp-owned Fox slumped 16.7 percent this year, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media and based on live viewing and those who record and watch the show the same day. The decline stemmed largely from a dwindling audience for singing contest “American Idol.”

Viewership at Comcast-owned NBC remained flat this season while that of its rivals declined. NBC is so far in third place this year among total viewers based on same-day viewing, but has been in the ratings cellar for years.

At a presentation at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt highlighted “The Michael J. Fox Show,” a new semiautobiographical comedy about a father with Parkinson’s. Fox starred on NBC in 1980s sitcom “Family Ties.”

The network also announced the return of “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes to its schedule in “Sean Saves the World,” a sitcom about a divorced gay dad, and trumpeted its broadcast of the Winter Olympics early next year.

Greenblatt said the network’s performance needs to improve.

“We have no illusions about how much work is ahead of us in order to grow our business,” Greenblatt told advertisers at the presentation.

Jay Leno, who will be replaced by comedian Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” in early 2014, joked in a video duet with Fallon about NBC’s struggles.

“Who knows? We may beat Univision,” Leno sang. NBC lost the February sweeps ratings period this year to Spanish-language network Univision.

Fallon told the crowd to send any complaints about the late night schedule to Greenblatt and flashed an authentic email address for the NBC executive on the screen.

Attendees at NBC’s event said they were impressed with the initial glimpses of the Michael J. Fox comedy as well as drama “The Blacklist,” which stars James Spader as an ex-government agent who is one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives.

“‘Blacklist’ stood out to me. I thought it was high drama,” said Greg McLelland, vice president of national sales for Canadian firm Shaw Media, following the event.

Fox also unveiled five new comedies and four dramas. They include “Dads,” the first live-action comedy from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, and “Almost Human,” from J.J. Abrams, creator of “Lost.”

Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said that Fox was making “the biggest investment” to date in programming for the network but declined to comment on the amount.

Reilly said it was likely “American Idol,” which lost 20 percent of its audience this season, would have three judges next year rather than four. Last week, veteran judge Randy Jackson said he would be leaving the show after 12 years.

Wall Street analysts expect broadcast networks to have to settle for lower ad rate increases than they have enjoyed in recent years.

Average prime-time ratings this season have declined 7.5 percent at the four broadcast networks as they compete with cable hits like “The Walking Dead” and “Duck Dynasty,” and streaming services like Netflix Inc.

Netflix, in a bid to shift attention away from the broadcast networks, had a man in a banana suit give out stickers to ad executives outside of the NBC upfront. The stunt promoted “Arrested Development,” a former Fox network sitcom that the Internet streaming service is reviving this month online.

ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co., will present its new schedule to advertisers on Tuesday, followed by CBS on Wednesday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

Movies

Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.