Life brings solid ratings for Fox
Paris and Nicole are back — and Fox is glad it's got 'em.
Just when we thought this year-round programming stuff was kind of a joke, first-run episodes of The Simple Life 2 delivered solid ratings Wednesday night and provided some healthy audience sampling for Fox's two new sitcoms, Quintuplets and Method & Red.
At 8 pm, Simple Life 2 was watched by 8.3 million, second in the hour to CBS's Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes (9 million). It was the time-period winner at 9 pm with 9.8 million viewers (who knew that so many people would find losing a child in a dark trailer park so entertaining?). Quintuplets — the new family sitcom with Andy Richter — scored 7.1 million viewers at 8:30 pm, while Method & Red, about hip-hop stars in a ritzy 'hood, had 8.3 million at 9:30 pm.
But most important to Fox was the Wednesday lineup's showing among viewers 18 to 49, which is what the network sells to advertisers. Both episodes of Simple Life 2 and Quintuplets were time-period winners in the demographic. Method & Red was a respectable second behind the last half-hour of the second season of NBC's Last Comic Standing (which has been so strong in the early going this summer that there is talk about the network ordering another round for the 2004-05 TV season).
Fox's Wednesday showing is a definite plus for this year's effort by the networks to aggressively program originals in the summer rather than airing repeats and ceding the audience to cable. Ratings for the network's other first-run summer shows — The Jury, North Shore and Casino, were less than spectacular, while NBC's Next Action Star and For Love or Money 3 also got off to rough starts. In fact, despite the original programming push, the trends for broadcast-network summer viewing are pretty much what they were last year.
From May 26 through June 15, broadcast-network viewing among 18 to 49-year-olds is down 36 percent from the average for the 2003-04 TV season. That's slightly ahead of the 34-percent drop the networks experienced during a comparable period a year ago.
What Fox execs are really hoping for is that Quintuplets and Method & Red can pull strong enough ratings to survive into the traditional fall season — when its ability to introduce new shows has been impeded by postseason baseball.