|Together again: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.
‚ÄúSimple Life‚ÄĚ had a three-year run on Fox after making its debut in 2003, but the 18-to-49 ratings for the show had slipped from a 5.8 in its first season to a 4.4 last year. Fox said it canceled the show because it didn‚Äôt have a slot for it on its midseason schedule. And while ‚ÄúThe Simple Life‚ÄĚ didn‚Äôt rate strongly enough for Fox to find it a spot on the schedule, snaring even a fraction of its broadcast ratings would be considered a coup for E, which has worked aggressively to build up its programming pipeline and rebuild its ratings.
Season-to-date, E‚Äôs prime-time ratings in the coveted 18-to-49 demo are down about 25% to a 0.16. And while media buyers recognize the value of E!‚Äôs brand and the generally upscale audience that it commands, they say it has more competition for celebrity-obsessed eyeballs from other cable networks, such as VH1, syndicated shows, such as ‚ÄúExtra,‚ÄĚ and even celebrity glossies.
Under Ted Harbert, who joined E as president a year and a half ago, the network has diversified its programming and added its own personalities, such as Lisa and Brittny Gastineau. E has coined the concept ‚Äúcelebutantes‚ÄĚ to describe the subjects on which it focuses its celebrity-lifestyle eye. Of course, the network also still boasts a strong red-carpet show and a steady diet of ‚ÄúTrue Hollywood Story‚ÄĚ and those guiltily indulgent clip shows, such as ‚Äú101 Even Bigger Celebrity Oops.‚ÄĚ And viewers still look to the network for celebrity dish: Its news programs consistently snare 0.3 and 0.4 ratings -- about 30% higher ratings than the network‚Äôs average.
Like the previous two seasons of the show, which place the two socialites in fish-out-of-water situations, E‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Simple Life‚ÄĚ will be themed. In ‚ÄúThe Simple Life: Housewives‚ÄĚ Ms. Richie and Ms. Hilton will each be charged with the domestic chores required to head up a household. In 2004 Fox aired ‚ÄúSimple Life: Road Trip‚ÄĚ and in 2005 changed the concept to ‚ÄúSimple Life: Interns.‚ÄĚ
Beginning in January, E will also have access to the 36-episode library of the series.