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Why the Super Bowl won’t cure what’s ailing Fox

Tentpole sporting events are artificially inflating the network’s numbers, which could mean a disappointing upfront

From Campaign US: “On paper, the traditional primetime ratings for Fox’s first season in 15 years without “American Idol” look relatively consistent. “Dominated and disrupted by this crazy election, it was a challenging time for all the networks,” said Gary Newman, Fox Co-Chairman & CEO at the recent Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. “On the back of a truly classic World Series that exceeded the dreams of even the most diehard Cubs fans, we had our best fall ranking in five years. Fox finished in second place, up 5 percent (in adults 18-49), making us the only broadcast network to post year-to-year growth.”

Of course, had Fox not been home to the seven-game Cubs-Indians matchup, Newman would have far less to be optimistic about.

Excluding sports, just one new series on Fox from last fall, dramedy “Lethal Weapon,” has generated interest. “Empire” in season three, now on a three-month hiatus, continues to slip, while its replacement, drama “Star,” is not the breakout hit the network was hoping for. Animated staples “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers” pale in comparison to earlier seasons. Live action comedies, particularly “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” remain limited. “Gotham,” like any superhero-themed fantasy drama, relies solely on the strength of social media for survival. Perennial benchwarmer “Bones” is coming to an end. Gordon Ramsay needs to take a season—or two—off. In sum, there are weaknesses aplenty across all seven nights of the week.

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Written by Marc Berman

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Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of weekly column “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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