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
Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 12,…

If you've wondered whether Ali and Bethany knew each other, you got an answer tonight: Yes, and in a very tangled way. But many lingering…

Entertainment

Cymbals Eat Guitars Have Everything to 'LOSE'

At its most basic level, a rock band can be thought of as a family, a group of people selflessly devoted to a cause. When…

Entertainment

"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: Episode 4, 'Week Four'

Some things are hard to watch in a “Human Centipede” sort of way. Other things in an “American History X” sort of way. Does “Bachelor…

Movies

Fall Movie Preview: 10 films to see this…

Despite being awards season, the next four months bring a glut of remakes, rehashes and sequels. Here are 10 that should be better worth your time.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…

Wellbeing

Working your way to type 2 diabetes: Job…

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a stressful job can be as risky for your health as a bad diet and no exercise. A…