I’ve learned Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly’s new deal just closed. His new deal will keep in place for 3 more years. His contract wasn’t up until July, but Fox Broadcasting Co wanted to lock him in early as because of all the TV hits he’s generating like Glee and The Cleveland Show and Fringe. And for the first time in the network’s history Fox won the fall — outperforming its nearest competitors by 6% in the adult demo, 35% among adults 18-34, and 50% among teens. (And this is the guy Jeff Zucker fired to bring in that putz Ben Silverman. NBCU, Zuckered again!)
In Hollywood, nice guys usually finish last. Yet under his leadership Fox has really broken out. The network gambled creatively by launching a musical on broadcast TV, and the show was done so well that it’s now a pop culture phenomenon. And Glee was championed from the very beginning by Reilly. This fall, it was the #1 new hour-long comedy on broadcast and the #1 new program among women. It ranked #1 among Adults 18-49 in its time period this fall and boasted the highest concentration of viewers with incomes of $100K+ among all broadcast TV shows. Glee also is already the most award-winning new series on television this season: 4 Golden Globe nominations, Golden Globe for Best Television Series Musical or Comedy, Screen Actors Guild Award, People’s Choice Award, and multiple nominations from the Directors Guild and Writers Guild of America. Glee: The Music, Volumes 1 and 2 were both certified gold, hit #1 on the iTunes charts, and debuted in the Billboard Top 5. Glee has sold over 4.5 million digital tracks to date. E4 in the United Kingdom launched Glee on January 11th to a record-breaking 1.3 million total viewers, the best ratings for an acquired series since 2005’s Lost.
Another gamble that paid off was the strategy to move Reilly’s sophomore hit Fringe (last season’s #1 new drama on television) to the most competitive timeslot in broadcast: Thursdays at 9 PM. Despite the inevitable ratings hit the series would suffer, Reilly made a big bet pairing Bones and Fringe on Thursday nights. Fox is now regularly placing second and first on Thursdays – a night on which the network used to come in last. A both shows are increasing ratings while the other network dramas like CSI and Grey’s Anatomy are hitting lows.
Look, all you can ask of these network bosses is one bonafide hit a year. Reilly did that at NBC and got fired for it. He’s doing it that and more at Fox and is being rewarded. Like, duh.