A big television question was asked by my esteemed colleague today, why is it exactly that FOX decided to slide American Idol over a day to Wednesday – Thursday from Tuesday – Wednesday? And so it’s time to begin the first in a recurring series, Television 101. Today I’ll talk about why a network would move the number one rated program in television to a different day.
First, moving a show is never an easy decision. People become accustomed to having a show on a certain night and at a certain time. We are all creatures of habit. Moving a show risks alienating some of those viewers and potentially making viewers decide on which show to watch should that move put a favorite show verses another favorite. But this is American Idol. If there is ever a show that could be moved and still weather the impact fairly well, it’s this show. By even given that, why move the show? Well, as it turns out moving American Idol takes care of one current problem and a potential new problem for FOX.
The current problem it does solve is that FOX has always had a hard time attracting a sizable audience on Thursday night. The current duo of Bones and Fringe was only half successful, with Fringe squandering away a sizable portion of its Bones lead in. So moving the American Idol results show to Thursday helps fill a hole and ships Fringe off to the television ratings wasteland that is Friday, but Fringe’s ratings simply are not that good to begin with. Of course the few shows that have seen moderate ratings success there over the year are genre shows which just might suit Fringe nicely.
But couldn’t FOX just move another show to Thursday, leave American Idol where it was and call it a day? Sure they could, but you bring back up the possibility that the audience partially abandons the other show in the move. And if you are going to keep American Idol on Tuesday it means moving the Tuesday night block elsewhere. And FOX does not want to mess with its Tuesday night lineup. Glee and Raising Hope (the first 90 minutes of Tuesday) pair very nicely together with Raising Hope being one of the few freshman series success stories on television this year. So splitting up these shows and moving one to Thursday hurts both Tuesday shows. FOX is not going to be inclined to break up a night that is working well for them.
Wednesday night on the other hand is in shambles for FOX, with very little working. So it wasn’t very difficult to decide that night was perfect to be two hours of American Idol from now until the spring. So Wednesday and Thursday it was for American Idol, and FOX gets to solidify its lineup for the spring.