Upfront 07

'Idol' Delivers Fox the 18- to 49-Year-Old Crown

Road to the Upfront: Fox

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Believe it or not, the TV upfront is right around the corner, and Advertising Age is here to help you keep track of the players in both broadcast and cable. This week we look at Fox Broadcasting.

The player: Fox Broadcasting

Key execs: Peter Liguori, president-entertainment, and Jon Nesvig, president-sales
Jon Nesvig, president-sales of Fox Broadcasting
Jon Nesvig, president-sales of Fox Broadcasting Credit: Jeff Weiner

The ratings game: "American Idol" is still the network's crowning glory but is starting to show signs of gray. It posted its lowest Tuesday-night ratings in two years midseason. "House" and "24" are posting year-to-year improvements, and Fox most likely will win the season in adults 18 to 49 for the third season in a row. As of April 18, the net remains steady year-to-year among 18- to 49-year-olds and is up 4% in total viewers.

What you'll hear: Fox's continued success stems from its unique position as a broad-appeal network among adults that still delivers strong concentrations of younger viewers. Fourth-quarter programming will be stronger next year (especially with fewer baseball pre-emptions). Also look for "Idol" and "January effect" to be mentioned in the same breath, with an additional nod to its Oleg-the-cab-driver content wraps. The network was out early to create original content for its commercial pods in direct response to the commercial-ratings debate.

Digital game: News Corp. announced in March it would partner with NBC Universal for an ambitious project to rival YouTube. It also has a broadband player it will continue to take to market on its home site.

Last year's upfront: Fox wrote an all-time high $1.8 billion last year and more scatter dollars than in any previous year.

The buyer's verdict: Steve Kalb, senior VP-broadcast at Mullen's Media Hub in Boston, said the network will have some momentum going into the summer with the return of "So You Think You Can Dance?" but will still need to add some new hits to a schedule that's performed well for the past three years. "'Drive' didn't do all that great, but I thought that had some promise. But '24' is going to be iconic, and 'House' has done so well for them. They're strong as far as Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are concerned. They could still work on Fridays."
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