With 18-49 Ratings Down 25%, Hopes Are on Paris and Nicole

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Paris and Nicole’s friendship may have ended, but the same can’t be said for their reality show, “The Simple Life.”

Photo: AP
Together again: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.
After word that Fox wouldn’t renew it, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s “The Simple Life” has landed at Comcast-owned E Entertainment network, where the two privileged daughters will share billing with E’s other heavily hyped duo, “The Gastineau Girls.”

“Simple Life” 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’t have a slot for it on its midseason schedule. And while “The Simple Life” didn’t 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’s 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!’s 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 “Extra,” 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 “celebutantes” 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 “True Hollywood Story” and those guiltily indulgent clip shows, such as “101 Even Bigger Celebrity Oops.” 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’s average.

Like the previous two seasons of the show, which place the two socialites in fish-out-of-water situations, E’s “The Simple Life” will be themed. In “The Simple Life: Housewives” Ms. Richie and Ms. Hilton will each be charged with the domestic chores required to head up a household. In 2004 Fox aired “Simple Life: Road Trip” and in 2005 changed the concept to “Simple Life: Interns.”

Beginning in January, E will also have access to the 36-episode library of the series.

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