Dumped by NBC and Univision over Donald Trump’s remarks about “rapists” immigrants, the Miss USA beauty pageant will still be televised out of Baton Rouge on July 12 after all thanks to some new friends in cable. In a deal with the Trump co-owned Miss Universe Organization, Reelz has picked up exclusive rights.
“The decision on the part of Reelz to acquire the rights to the Miss USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” said CEO Stan E. Hubbard today in a statement. “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere.”
No details of the agreement to air the pageant were revealed other than an airdate — 8 PM on a summer Sunday — but with the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host’s former network partners jettisoning him, the sat/cabler likely purchased the show at a fire-sale price. “The Miss USA Pageant is a perfect fit on Reelz where movies, entertainment and celebrity come together every day of the year,” Hubbard said.
Unlike the wide-reaching Comcast-owned NBC, which has been airing Miss USA since 2002, Albuquerque, NM-based Reelz is seen in about 60% of American households with one or more TVs. That means that Miss USA is very unlikely to see viewership of 5.5 million, which is what its 2014 NBC airing pulled in. Up until June 25, Univision was set to air a Spanish-language simulcast.
Then again, having aired the inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards in 2011 and followed up with the likes of the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the American Veterans Center Honors awards last November, the faith-based MovieGuide Awards and AARP’s 14th annual “Movies For Grownups Gala” on Oscar weekend this year, Reelz is burgeoning in such ceremonies. Though obviously none has quite fallen in their lap the way this year’s Miss USA did with networks, hosts and judges jumping ship in quick order.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Reelz has caught programming that was deemed too hot to handle by the big boys. In a somewhat similar situation, Reelz acquired the controversial The Kennedys miniseries in 2011 after History decided not to air the Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear starrer amid claims of inaccuracies and unflattering portrayals. The eight-episode drama debuted on April 3 that year to around 1.3 million viewers and won Reelz its first Emmy Awards.