Summer Test Yields Mixed Results for Fox

In new show tryouts, stations around the country embrace Dish Nation more than Father Albert

The Fox TV station are concurrently testing
two new syndicated shows: Dish Nation
and Father Albert. As for the results—well,
there’s good news and then there’s not-so-good news.

The stations will likely go forward with Dish
, an entertainment/talk hybrid in which morning
drive-time radio DJs chat about the day’s news
and pop culture.

Dish Nation gives voice to what everyone around the
country is thinking,” says
Stephen Brown, senior VP
of programming and development
for Twentieth Television,
who gets to work at 2
a.m. each day to start planning
the show. “If you look
at the new census numbers,
we are a true melting pot.
We are completely changed
from what we were 20 years
ago, and our programming
has to reflect that.”

Dish Nation
, which was
pitched to Twentieth by
promo packager Stu Weiss of Studio City, features Atlanta DJ Rickey
Smiley, Detroit’s Blaine and Allyson, Los Angeles’ Fellie Fel and Krystal
Bee and New York’s Scott and Todd riffing on the day’s hot topics. It is
built around the hosts in their radio studios, but most of the talking
for TV happens when the DJs are off radio air.

“This is a fresh new take on this pop-culture newsmagazine,” says
Brown. “TMZ broke the mold three or four years ago. To be honest,
when TMZ first launched, it wasn’t a success. It finally found its success
the following May. We are very encouraged by having launched
this new brand and having folks respond.”

After a week on the air, Dish Nation is averaging a 0.9 rating/
2 share across seven Fox markets.
The show’s best performance
is in Detroit, where it’s
averaging a 2.2/6 at midnight
on WJBK, down 27% from its
lead-in and down 12% from its
year-ago time period average.
Dish Nation is least watched in
Los Angeles, where it’s averaging
a 0.5/1 at 6:30 p.m. on
KTTV. That’s down 58% from
the show’s lead-in and off 17%
from year-ago time-period performance,
when another test,
Craig Kilborn’s The Kilborn
, aired.

Should the Fox stations decide
to pick Dish Nation up, it
will likely be paired with TMZ,
Warner Bros.’ edgy entertainment
mag, in many markets.

Meanwhile, Debmar-Mercury’s
Father Albert, which began its
five-week test run on July 11,
is unlikely to go forward. Stations
in three markets—New
York, Minneapolis and Phoenix—
pulled the show from
their schedules after only three
weeks. Stations in the other three Fox markets—Los Angeles, Dallas
and Tampa—have been reasonably happy with the show and are expected
to play out the 20 episodes that Debmar-Mercury produced.

Father Albert, starring Miami-based Episcopalian priest Father Alberto
Cutie, is averaging a 0.7/2 in its six Fox markets.

The show’s best performance is in Dallas, where it’s averaging a
1.0/3 on KDFW at 1 p.m., down 33% from its lead-in but up 11%
from what Warner Bros.’ cancelled Judge Jeanine Pirro was doing in the
time slot last year. The show’s worst performance is in Minneapolis,
where it’s averaging a 0.3/1 on KMSP, down 50% from its lead-in and
down 57% from its year-ago time-period average.

All that said, executives at both Fox and Debmar-Mercury say this is
why they keep testing shows: It’s better to know that a show’s going to
fail after just three weeks on the air than after wasting a year on it.

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