Programming

Fox Happy with More BCS, Less MLB

1/22/2007 06:57:00 AM Eastern

College football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was a welcome addition for Fox, while dropping a portion of the baseball playoffs beginning this fall is an even more welcome subtraction, according to network entertainment president Peter Liguori.

Liguori said Saturday he was “really heartened” by the scheduling of the early-January BCS, during a week the network would normally be airing reruns.

“I have to admit that we were a little nervous with the fact that the BCS Championship Game was actually going to appear on Monday,” he said.  “I think it just created an even greater stir.  I believe at that time, that was the highest-rated show of the year, the BCS Championship game. The guys at [Fox Sports] did a terrific job.  They did a terrific job producing it, scheduling it.  We're very fortunate to have it.  It's another arrow in our quiver come January. 

Liguori also reiterated his pleasure with parent company News Corp.’s decision to scale back its post-season baseball coverage (&http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6351403.html?display=Search+Results&text=MLB>).  Liguori’s comments come in the wake of a fall in which the network struggled to gain any traction for its new shows, and had few bright spots before the January launches of American Idol and 24.

While acknowledging the fall shows were not up to par from a quality standpoint (“We have to have better shows in the fourth quarter,” he said), Liguori said he believes cutting back on baseball will help from a scheduling standpoint.

“I think that will give us a little bit of flexibility in terms of how we roll out and when we premiere,” he said  “I do think we're going to premiere earlier than our competition. We just have to because of that two-, two-and-a-half-week hiatus that we take.  But I think the only change strategically is the recognition that we have a little more flexibility.”

Also on Saturday, Liguori noted the effects of government regulation on the network’s day-to-day operations.

“The situation we all find ourselves in with the FCC is a very difficult one,” he said.  “It definitely has a chilling effect on the creative.  There's no hard and fast rules.” 

Liguori also declined to answer any questions about the O.J. Simpson special the network announced and subsequently cancelled, as the executive claimed he was unable to discuss the topic due to “pending and threatened litigation.”

March