Discovery's TLC will televise the recently ratings-challenged Miss America pageant this year, giving it a new home on cable after Viacom's Country Music Television decided not to exercise rights to continue running it. TLC has slated the Vegas-based show for Jan. 26, 2008, and will run a reality series about the contestants.
The buy, which gives TLC telecast rights through 2010, is one of the first major moves from the network's new president/general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes, who joined the network July 1 from Fox TV Studios. Since Discovery announced her appointment this April, shifting TLC's leadership from Maryland to Los Angeles, executives both inside and outside of the company have wondered what kind of new spin she would bring to the network.
TLC, on the ratings rebound itself after slipping a couple of years back, could be just what Miss America needs to regain its own luster. The classic beauty contest moved to cable's CMT in 2004 after a dismal performance on its longtime broadcast home, ABC.
CMT put a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign behind the show and bolstered it with a sister reality series, but that didn't help. After a disappointing ratings performance for last year's show--2.39 million viewers vs. 3.07 million in 2006--CMT said in April it would not to pick up its option to televise it for 2008-11.
ABC, which had broadcast the pageant before CMT, decided not to renew its contract with Miss America after the 2004 show pulled in just 9.8 million viewers, then a record low.
TLC's own reality show will follow the contestants as they prepare for this year's pageant, which the network says will have a "new twist."
"We're thrilled to partner with the Miss America Organization and to broadcast the next generation of the Miss America Pageant," said Shapiro-Mathes in a statement.
"After thorough discussions and negotiations, we are confident that Miss America has found the perfect partner to host our Pageant," said Sam Haskell, III, Chairman of the Board for The Miss America Organization. "Miss America's move to TLC will give it the proper promotion and attention it deserves."