Time for another end of year Network Scorecard – and this time around we’re heading to Fox

WHAT’S WORKING:

AMERICAN IDOL / THE X FACTOR: Did Fox make the right decision in adding ANOTHER music competition show to their line-up?

Sure The X Factor is nowhere near the ratings league of the mighty American Idol – but then again, what is? The new Simon Cowell show is generally delivering between 10 – 12 million viewers a week versus Idol’s 18-20 million. Plus it’s an expensive show to make. Sounds like a flop right?

Not really. Many of the costs of The X Factor are borne by deep-pocketed brands like Pepsi. Plus the show is a hit among the advertiser coveted 18-49 demo and has been instrumental in increasing Fox’s Fall ratings year on year (they’re up 17%). Fox can now legitimately claim to be a year round network, instead of a channel that only kicks in in January.

As for Idol – well rumors of its post-Simon Cowell demise proved to be totally unfounded. Sure the show slipped a tad from seasons past – but the new lineup of Steven Tyler, J. Lo and Randy Jackson proved a hit with viewers (though not with myself) and the final show of the season was 5 million up on 2010. Plus winner Scotty McCreery, has vastly outsold recent winners Lee DeWyze and Kris Allen.

Now the big question becomes – will The X Factor’s Fall run damage Idol come January? And what effect will the second season of NBC’s hot newcomer The Voice have on the veteran reality show? It’s going to be an exciting year ahead…

NEW GIRL: Fox hasn’t had much luck on the comedy front in recent years (see below) but New Girl is a rare bright spot on the network. The critically acclaimed Zooey Deschanel starrer scores well in the youth demos and is a solid performer for the network with the potential to grow into a comedy classic.

On the downside, New Girl has slipped badly since its opening weeks (going from 10 million for its opener to just 6-7 million) partly due to Fox’s bad scheduling which took the show off the air just as it was finding its feet. I personally find New Girl’s quality erratic but when it’s good, it’s really, really good. At the moment the show could go either way – but for now it’s a hit.

GLEE: Hmm, this one almost ended up in the What’s Not Working column. Wow, Fox really let this one slip away didn’t they?

This time last year, Glee was the toast of the TV industry – scoring over 11 million viewers a week and even scoring the plum post-Superbowl slot.

But after a terrible second season punctuated by character inconsistencies, bad writing, too many guest stars and general production shoddiness, Glee has lost its buzz and is shedding viewers, myself included, on a weekly basis. Now stuck in the 7-8 million range, Glee seems destined for one more season and then its done. Magazines and websites are still writing about the show but I’d be amazed if the show was able to gain its buzz back. What a shame!

HOUSE / BONES: These two old stalwarts continue to perform well on Fox, but like all veteran series they’re not what they used to be.

House fell dramatically last season and this year hasn’t cracked the 10 million mark for a single episode. Plus there’s a huge question mark over whether star Hugh Laurie wants to re-up for more seasons – or if Fox would even want to produce them.

Bones meanwhile performed well until the end of last season, but again has been in trouble this Fall. Just like House, not a single episode has cracked the 10 million mark since September, and aside from the Fall premiere, every episode has scored under 9 million (by contrast only 2 episodes last season scored below this mark)

Sure both shows are still solid performers and score better than anything on NBC (yep, NBC really is in that bad a shape) but Fox definitely needs some new hits in the pipeline…

WHAT ISN’T:

FRINGE: Why do networks stick with flailing shows that have pretty much zero chance of ever growing their audience?

For years NBC have kept the appallingly rated Chuck on the air, and Fox seem to be going down the same road with Fringe, the J.J. Abrams produced series that’s just never taken off with a wide audience.

Now in season 4, Fringe is barely pulling in 3 million viewers each week in its Friday night slot and will likely close out the season closer to the 2 million mark! Fox would be a lot better of making Friday nights an entirely unscripted night – they’d score better ratings and save a heck of a lot of money.

COMEDY: Sure New Girl is performing well for Fox and the Sunday night animation block is fairly solid – but elsewhere on the schedule, the network is having a tough time on the funny front.

There’s Raising Hope, which despite some critical kudos and significant coverage still isn’t really a hit (5 million viewers a time isn’t going to get anyone too excited); I Hate My Teenage Daughter which is already on its way to cancellation after a week 2 slump; and Breaking In, which was cancelled, un-cancelled, and is now limping back onto our screens in the New Year.

Then there are all the network’s recent flops in this space – Traffic Light, The Good Guys, Running Wilde and Sons Of Tucson. Why can’t Fox find its funny bone in the way that ABC and CBS have?

TERRA NOVA: I’ve talked about Terra Nova before here at Remote Patrolled, the hideously expensive sci-fi saga whose ratings have been in free-fall since its high profile launch.

Now scoring around the 7 million mark, Terra Nova isn’t a total disaster – but it’s certainly a disappointment for Fox given all the money that was spent on the pilot, production and promotion. No wonder the network is reluctant to cancel the show – they have to be hoping they can recoup some of that money down the line. But given the show’s limping ratings maybe Fox would be better of cutting and running now. They don’t want Terra Nova to become another Fringe…

COMING SOON:

J.J.Abrams unleashes the highly anticipated Alcatraz – but will it be the new Lost – or the next Undercovers; Bones gets a spin-off in the form of The Finder (hmm, a couple of seasons too late perhaps?); Kiefer Sutherland tries to erase the ghost of Jack Bauer as he returns to his TV home with the new drama series Touch; and Napoleon Dynamite gets the animated treatment. Plus a little old show called American Idol returns for it’s 11th season…

FINAL GRADE: B –