Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment for FOX broadcasting company, took the stage today at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour to address a change in programming philosophies for the FOX 2013-2014 TV schedule and his annoyances with ratings reporting.
Reilly wants to end the traditional fall and midseason mass launches of new shows and instead schedule year round. “It’s crazy that we launch 85 shows at one time,” Reilly says of the fall season. His calendar, he tells, is 52 weeks long and he’s scheduling against that, rolling out high-profile shows throughout the year including 24: Live Another Day in May 2014 and M. Night Shyamalan Wayward Pines, a multi-part TV series based on author Blake Crouch’s mystery/thriller novel of the same name starring Matt Dillon, in summer of 2014. “We’re going to be in a 12-month rollout — there are no times of years that are lesser times of years.”
On The TV Landscape in General
The good news is that people are watching more TV. That “justifies all of our livelihoods,” Reilly says. TV consumption is up 2 hours a month, however, as we know, the mediums in which people are consuming content is becoming more and more diverse. While live same-day viewing continues to lead the share of views, On Demand, Hulu and DVR viewership continues to rise. Measuring a show’s success based on live same-day viewing is only a “sliver” of the real story, Reilly contends. He looks for changes in the way viewership is reported and calculated and wants news stories to tell the whole story.
Reilly gives numerous examples to demonstrate market share. The Following, for example, averaged 7 million viewers for live viewing but increased by 65% when plus 7-day views were added, making the show’s weekly average 11 million. He also elaborates that VOD is a growing segment and when you actually look at audience share over a 30-day period vs. the traditional 7 days after the live airing, viewing is equally proportioned throughout the month. This means viewers are taking their time to watch episodes on VOD and the view is not just happening within the first 7 days, which currently is the only viewership that is being measured.
Calling A Hit A Hit
When it comes to cable vs. broadcast and what’s considered a hit and what’s not, Reilly’s got some thoughts on that as well. Of the 1,050 original shows on cable last season only four cable shows would make it in the top 50 TV shows in terms of viewership. “I don’t have a chip on my shoulder,” he says but broadcast network successes seem to carry “some type of asterisk” when it comes to reporting ratings and success criteria vs. their cable competition. “You would have to play Portlandia 12 times to get the ratings of New Girl,” he says. He gives the The Mindy Project as another example, noting it was the top rated comedy last fall, and beat out shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, Louie and Girls — all of which consistently dominate headlines and critics’ praise.