Fox wins the season in 18-49 demographic

MUMBAI: Buoyed by the sucess of its music based reality show American Idol, US broadcaster Fox got its first ever win for a TV season in the 18-49 demographic. This age group is highly sought after by advertisers and Fox came out on top for the September 2004-May 2005 season.


American Idol helped Fox knock out the competition

CBS scored its third consecutive victory in the total viewers column by a comfortable margin. American Idol took the top spot in the top 10 shows of the season in the 18-49 age group. ABC's Desperate Housewives was next. What is interesting is that Fox started the season on a bad note. Its reality show The Next Great Champ fared so poorly that it was quickly shipped off to Fox Sports.

'Desperate Housewives' turned things around at ABC

At the start of the season another flop for Fox was The Rebel Billionaire. Hosted by Richard Branson, the Rupert Murdoch owned broadcaster had been hoping that the show would prove to be a rival to NBC's The Apprentice.

The race to win the 18-49 category was close. Early projections showed that Fox was slightly ahead of CBS in that group by one-tenth of a demo rating point (4.1 versus 4.0), according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

Third-place ABC (3.7) was been bolstered by Desperate Housewives and the medical soap Grey's Anatomy. NBC lost 19 per cent of its viewership in the 18-49 demographic. One show that did not work was The Contender. Its failure along with Fox's previously mentioned Next Great Champ puts a question mark over the future of sports based reality shows.


Mark Burnett failed to work his magic on 'The Contender'

The 2004-05 TV season went out with a bang when the two-hour season finales of Fox's American Idol and ABC's Lost drew a collective average of 51 million viewers to broadcast television.

Another notable feature during the season was that the sitcom continued its decline. ABC cancelled its show 8 Simple Rules. It lost 43 per cent of its viewership in the 18-49 age group. NBC's Will And Grace lost 38 per cent of its share because there was no Friends lead in.

NBC suffered the blows of losing Friends at the same time that viewership of other established programmes on its schedule took a dive in the ratings. The situation was very different in August 2004 when the network was doing well with its coverage of the Athens Olympics. During the recently concluded season even established shows like Law And Order struggled in the face of competition from CBS' ratings winner CSI: NY and ABC's Desperate Housewives.

With The Apprentice suffering from viewer fatigue with a 37 per cent drop in viewership, the hospital drama ER ended up being NBC's top-rated programme overall. It came in at number nine as far as ratings for the season in the 18-49 age group was concerned. Meanwhile, as far as the May Sweeps are concerned CBS won for total households, with an 8.8 rating and a 15 share, while Fox won the 18 to 49 segment with a 4.5 rating and a 13 share. One show that benefitted from American Idol is the show that immediately follows it on Fox - the medical drama House.

The question for the other broadcasters is how they will counter the Idol effect next year. ABC is said to be moving Lost into that slot.

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