Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly Leaving Network

Channel Has Lost Its Lead Among 18-to-49-Year-Old Viewers

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Kevin Reilly.
Kevin Reilly. Credit: Chris Haston

Just weeks after he helped pitch the upcoming TV season to ad buyers, Fox Broadcasting Company Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly is leaving the network, Fox said on Thursday. He will depart by the end of June. No successor has been named.

Mr. Reilly joined Fox in 2007, just weeks after being ousted from his post as head of entertainment at NBC, and has been chairman of entertainment at Fox since 2012. There he oversaw many successes for the network, including the introduction of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Sleep Hollow" last season as well as "Glee," "New Girl" and "The Following."

But the network has lost its lead among 18-to-49-year olds, once a strong suit year after year for the network. NBC this season took the crown for that demographic from CBS, which won it last year.

Fox's once-mighty "American Idol" is returning for a 14th round next season even though its ratings fell to series lows this year. Mr. Reilly said during upfront week that "Idol" won't recover its peak again but that the network is trying to position it as a show that can live on "for many years to come."

"Idol" will shrink to about 37 hours next season from more than 50 this year. "It's not about turning it around," Mr. Reilly said. "That story has been filed."

Mr. Reilly had also been telling advertisers and TV critics that the network is moving to year-round development of TV series and moving away from the the traditional pilot season, which he argued drives up costs by concentrating activity in a small portion of the calendar. Broadcasters also now face year-round competition from cable channels.

"The broadcast scheduling process was built for a different era when there were three networks that had a near monopoly," he said in January. "We don't live in that age anymore."

Mr. Reilly said in a statement provided by the company that he and Fox Networks Group Chairman-CEO Peter Rice had been talking about about a change. "Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while, and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the time was as right as it could be," he said in the statement.

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