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TCA: Fox's Reilly Urges Change in Traditional Measurement, TV Season

CompleteCoverage: TCA Summer Press Tour 2013

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Los Angeles -- Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly came
out swinging at his executive session at the TCA press tour on Thursday, urging
reporters to take a more comprehensive look at TV measurement and outlining his
network's efforts to push back against the antiquated 37-week TV season.

Reilly spoke to his frustration about the asterisk placed on
network hits; that while The Mindy Project was the top-rated new comedy
last season averaging a 2.2 rating with adults 18-49, beating acclaimed cable
fare like Breaking Bad, Dexter and Justified, it was labeled a
modest hit. He urged more diligence in keeping those numbers in context so that
all analysis is equal.

"I don't think the broadcast system is broken. We are
adapting to the marketplace. We have been bound by certain practices that were
born of a different era," Reilly said, pointing to the 37-week season that
"we'll be pushing back on."

With repeats no longer worth much on air, Fox will look to
move them to other platforms where it can monetize them better. The network will
also look to make the fall less of a priority. "We'll still be in fall, but
starting this season, we're going to be in more of a 12-month roll-out. I'd
really like to ban the word midseason," Reilly said. "I think we have to start
breaking out of some of this mold."

To do that, you have to produce more originals, and on Thursday
Foxannounced it would remake the acclaimed BBC series Broadchurch as anevent series. Reilly said the flexibility for scheduling was one of the
things he loves about event series like its upcoming 24 reboot and Wayward
. "We'll have it in the can in advance, so we can program in a way
that's best for the network and the show."

Other highlights from Reilly's executive session included:

  • The third episode of this season of Glee will deal
    with Cory Monteith's Finn Hudson character being written out of the show, and
    Reilly said it would deal directly with the drug addiction involved in
    Monteith's death. He also said that creator Ryan Murphy and the cast would
    shoot PSAs about drug addiction and that all music sales from that episode will
    be donated to start a scholarship fund in Monteith's honor.
  • Speaking of Glee, Reilly told reporters after his session that the
    latest two-season renewal would likely be its last. "I would not anticipate it. Never say never, but
    there's two very clear arcs to get to the end and conclude," he said. "If we discover a new
    crop of kids and there's some breakout, who knows."
  • Reilly talked about the need to program Fridays with quality programming. "Friday
    is one of the problems we've created for ourselves. We can't look at other
    nights of the week or times of the year as lesser. We are going to program
    first-run top quality shows there." While Reilly said it might not end up being
    the exact comedies in has in place there now -- Enlisted and Raising
    , he is committed to programming originals on the night, including Bones,
    which has held numerous spots on Fox's schedule. He noted the show has loyal
    fans that will follow it wherever it goes. "That's not putting a show out to
    stub. That's putting a show people want to watch to start building that night.
  • Despite early critical panning of new sitcom Dads, Reilly urged
    reporters to give the Seth MacFarlane show a chance to prove itself -- even
    reading the initial bad reviews of The Big Bang Theory from the stage, a show that's now the
    top-rated entertainment program on TV. "That's a pilot. You know the lineage of
    these writers. Ted was not an accident. These guys are going to try to test a
    lot of boundaries," he said. "Do I think all the jokes in the pilot are in
    calibration? No. But I've never seen that in a pilot... We need to get and I want
    to get back in the multicamera sitcom business."
  • Reilly told reporters after the session that he expects to name a replacement for former reality chief Mike Darnell within the month. "Just about everybody in that business has thrown their
    hat in the ring. I have met and talked to a lot of
    people." He also noted that the reality development space has become sale, and that Fox will be looking for more original concepts over foreign formats. "I think we have to get back to idea of creating
    things ourselves. The top candidates I'm talking to will have a track record in
    that area and absolutely want to go do that."