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Fox Looks for Summer Heat to Carry Into Fall

This summer, the Fox-owned TV stations will test six series—Top 30, The Jason Show, The Preachers, Page Six TV, So-Me and Kitchen Nightmares. It’s a total that’s greater than the group has ever looked at in this way, and the tests are as much about keeping new shows on the air during summer rerun season as they are about seeing which ones might pop with viewers.

“We look at it as fresh summer programming, as an original summer slate for our stations more than anything,” says Frank Cicha, senior VP, programming for Fox Television Stations. “We’re not pretending all six of these are going to be gigantic hits, but we’ll be providing more original programming for our viewers than any other group. If a big hit comes out of this, great. This is absolutely our biggest slate ever.”

Fox’s summer tests will kick off June 6 with two new shows: Top 30, a half-hour strip that runs through the top 30 stories of the day, and The Jason Show, a talk show starring radio host and KMSP Minneapolis regular Jason Matheson that’s been airing on Fox-owned KMSP and winning its time period.

“Jason’s a good talent who’s struck a chord in his own local market,” says Cicha. “We want to try him in some other markets and see if anyone else takes notice.”

The Jason Show will air on three additional Fox-owned stations starting Monday: KTTV Los Angeles at 1 p.m., KDFW at 2 p.m. and KSAZ Phoenix at 2 p.m.

Top 30 will be tested not only by select Fox stations, but also by Media General and Sinclair stations, says Stephen Brown, executive VP of programming and development, Fox Television Stations.

Top 30 will air on eight Fox-owned stations, including two duopolies. In New York, those are WNYW at 1 p.m. and WWOR at 5 p.m. In Los Angeles, the show comes to KTTV at midnight and KCOP at 4 p.m. Additionally, Top 30 will air on WTXF Philadelphia at 2 p.m.; WDCA Washington, D.C. at 4 p.m.; WAGA Atlanta at 1:30 p.m.; KSAZ Phoenix at 12:30 p.m.; WTVT Tampa Bay at 1:30 p.m.; and KMSP Minneapolis at 1:30 p.m.

The show also will run on 11 Media General-owned stations, including KNVA Austin at 10 p.m.; WNLO Buffalo, N.Y., at 11 p.m.; and WDTN Dayton, Ohio, at 4:30 p.m. And it will air on two Sinclair-owned stations: WTVX West Palm Beach, Fla., at 10:30 p.m.; and WLFL Raleigh, N.C., at 11 p.m.

Looking for Converts

On July 11, Fox-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, Atlanta, Phoenix, Houston, Orlando and Charlotte will start a three-week test of The Preachers, a panel talk show that includes four pastors, courtesy of The View’s executive producer, Bill Geddie.

That will be followed by a test of Page Six TV starting July 18 on seven Fox-owned stations, with four stations testing the show in key access time periods. Page Six TV will air on WNYW at 7 p.m.; on KTTV at 6:30 p.m.; on WTXF at 7 p.m.; on KDFW Dallas at 11:30 p.m.; on WAGA at 7 p.m.; on WJBK Detroit at 11:30 p.m.; and on WTVT at 1 p.m.

Other shows to be tested this summer are Trifecta’s So-Me, a strip that draws its content from social media, and a four-week off-net run of Kitchen Nightmares that stars Gordon Ramsay and airs on the Fox broadcast network in first-run.

“I think it’s better to have something original than a repeat,” says Cicha. “Ratings in the summer evaporate— there’s no reason for viewers to come to the station in dayparts that aren’t local news. These gigantically long deals for syndicated shows are not the future. But it’s tricky from the standpoint of national barter advertising, so we’re trying to think of new ways to do this.”

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.