FOX ADDS ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ TO THURSDAYS FOR SWEEPS

Results Show Will Air For Two Weeks in February

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Fox is scheduling a live Thursday night edition of its ratings powerhouse “American Idol.” For two weeks during February sweeps “American Idol” will air performances by male contestants on Tuesday, female performances on Wednesday and a voting results show on Thursday -- a first for the reality series. As currently scheduled, the rest of the “Idol” season will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The move puts Fox into the competitive Thursday landscape, but “Idol” (which airs at 8 p.m.) will not conflict with the heavily contested 9 p.m. hour, where NBC has moved its breakout hit “My Name Is Earl” followed by “The Office” in an attempt to rebuild its Must See TV Thursday night. ABC has slated its surprise hit “Dancing With the Stars” for its midseason Thursday night.

The two nights of “American Idol” were last year’s two highest rated shows in viewers 18-to-49. According to Ad Age’s 2005 to 2006 network pricing chart, it commands the highest ad rates, with the price of the 30-second spot running $518,466 in the Wednesday edition and $496,866 in the Tuesday edition.

Fox, which only programs two hours of prime-time programming a night, has a crowded schedule come January, thanks to the return of its two biggest hits, “Idol” and “24,” which will premiere over two nights Jan. 15 and 16. Fox’s new “Skating with Celebrities” premieres Wednesday, Jan. 18, and moves to its regular Monday night 9 p.m. spot on Jan. 23. Its freshman hit “Prison Break” returns Monday, March 13 at 8 p.m.

~~ James Hibberd is a reporter for Television Week.

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