For the first time, Fox Television Stations is extending a summer test to stations owned by other broadcast groups.
Sinclair’s WUTB Baltimore and WRDC Raleigh, N.C., and Block Communication’s WMYO Louisville will join Fox in running four-week summer tests of Fox’s The Boris and Nicole Show, starring Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. The show will premiere July 6 and run on six select Fox stations, in addition to the three Sinclair and Block stations. Fox also is still in talks with other station groups to give the show a summer test.
“From a bigger picture perspective, if there’s anything to this program, this will get people invested in it right off the bat,” says Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for the Fox Television Stations. “The deal is very simple: they run the show for four weeks, they keep all the inventory. If they don’t like what they see, they can pull it.”
The more important part of this equation, Cicha says, is giving stations new programming to run in the summer. Traditionally, broadcast television has gone into repeats in the summer, but ratings are increasingly proving how much that doesn’t work, so stations, syndicators and networks alike are looking for ways to keep viewers watching during the warm months.
“People would like to run something new in the summer and this isn’t costing them anything,” says Cicha. “I want to get rid of this notion that these are tests. More than ever in this TV landscape, you need to have new stuff in the summer.”
Should Boris and Nicole do well, it will likely return, but when is a question. Typically, when a studio runs a summer test — such as Warner Bros.’ Bethenny or The Real — it needs a year to sell the show nationally before it can bring the show back. Fox Television Stations is producing Boris and Nicole, however, so it feasibly could bring the show back sooner if it gets traction in its test.
“The first thought in our heads is certainly not ‘how do we make this work for fall 2016 in national syndication,’” says Cicha. “The important thing is to see what we have and come up with a new way to do it. We could keep it on or have it go away for less time or not have it launch nationally.”
Boris and Nicole is going to run on Fox’s WNYW New York at 11 a.m.; KTTV Los Angeles at 1 p.m.; WTTG Washington, D.C., at noon; KSAZ Phoenix at 2 p.m.; WAGA Atlanta at 1 p.m.; and WJBK Detroit at 2 p.m. It also will run on Sinclair’s WUTB Baltimore at 4 p.m., leading into Debmar-Mercury’s popular Wendy Williams at 5 p.m., and on WRDC Raleigh, N.C., at noon. It will air on WMYO Louisville at 10 a.m.
Once the Boris and Nicole trial run is concluded, Fox will start another four-week test of another show, Ice-T and Coco, produced by Warner Bros. That show will air in the same time slots on the six Fox-owned stations, giving those slots some summer stability while trying out new programming.