Road to the Upfront: Fox

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Upfront hosts: With Entertainment President Gail Berman departing for Paramount Pictures, it's likely to be Peter Liguori, her replacement.

Other side of the table: Jon Nesvig, president-sales

Performance in 18-49s: After a sluggish start, Fox Network is currently No. 1 in the advertiser-important demo. For the week ending March 20, Fox reeled in a 4.1 rating, 5.4 million viewers and an 11 share; next-best performer was CBS, with 4.0. Fox also had five of the top 10 shows: two "American Idols," "House," "Simple Life 3" and "24."

Performance in total viewers: Season-to-date Fox's third-place position matches NBC's. Fox had a 3.6 rating, 10 million viewers and a 9 share. It ranks behind CBS and ABC. *

Best returning shows: "American Idol" is back with a vengeance, improving slightly on its 18-49 performance last year (11.5 rating/28 share/14.9 million viewers, season-to-date 2005 vs. 11.2 rating/28 share 14.4 million viewers in 2004). "24" season-to-date is attracting 12.6 million viewers, according to Fox, the show has seen a growth of 24% in 18-49 demo.

New shows: "American Idol" has provided a bounce to new medical drama "House" from NBC Universal productions. While "House" got off to a slow start, it is now pulling 17.3 million viewers and ranked the No. 4 show among 18-to-49-year-olds in the week to March 20.

Weakest areas: Despite the success of its midseason schedule, Fox still has work to do developing its comedies and dramas. Fox took flak for its copycat reality series, "Trading Spouses" and "The Next Great Champ," and neither did well. Fox needs to find a new "Ally McBeal" for Mondays-pilot "Queen B" with Alicia Silverstone could potentially take its place.

Audience average age: up slightly this season to 37.3, from 36.4 last season, but claims to be the youngest of the big four networks

Last year's CPM increase: 7%

Last year's upfront haul: $1.6 billion - $1.7 billion

The buyer's verdict: The 52-weeks-a-year schedule is largely driven out of the baseball coverage in October. " 'The O.C' has worked well, the development slate looked good," said Doug Seay, senior VP-national broadcast at Publicis & Hal Riney, citing pilot shows such as "New Car Smell" with Brooke Shields, "X-Files"-like "Bones" and upcoming "Hell's Kitchen," a reality show with British chef Gordon Ramsay.

*Season-to-date Sept. 20 to March 20

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