The Miss Universe Pageant has found a new TV home.
Fox Broadcasting has picked up The 64th Annual Miss Universe Pageant, its new owner IMG and the Miss Universe Organization said today. The three-hour annual event will air live from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on December 20 at 7 PM ET live, and tape delayed on the West Coast.
As part of the deal, Fox also has domestic rights to air the Miss USA pageant, which will debut on the network in 2016.
Fox Entertainment president David Madden said in today’s announcement FBC is excited to “infuse a new energy into” the two pageants, working with IMG and the Miss Universe Organization.
Today’s announcement brings closure to a dramatic few months for both pageants. The drama started on June 16, when Donald Trump announced his White House bid, promising to build a wall along the country’s southern border because Mexico is sending us “people who have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems: drugs,…rapists… and some, I assume are good people.”
Univision, which had a five-year deal for Spanish-language rights to both pageants, pulled out of the upcoming Miss USA broadcast in protest over the remarks of the real-estate mogul, who co-owned both pageants with NBCUniversal. Univision said it was canceling its arrangement on the pageants.
NBCU, which includes Spanish-language media giant Telemundo and NBCUniverso, followed suit. The company canceled plans to air the Miss USA pageant in July and announced it was taking steps to sever its pageant ownership relationship with Trump. Trump, in turn, said he’d see NBC in court, setting in motion arbitration that resulted in his buying out NBCU’s 51% share.
In mid-September, WME | IMG acquired The Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss Universe,Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, from Trump. WME in 2011 had entered a partnership on the Miss USA/Universe pageants, expanding on its previous licensing agreement, and IMG has served as executive producers of both Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
But, in the interim, Miss USA Pageant organizers were left scrambling for a broadcaster. The pageant wound up on Reelz Channel where clocked its lowest-ever audience of under 1 million viewers in a cobbled-together, last-minute distribution deal. For comparison’s sake, last year’s properly promoted pageant broadcast on NBC averaged 5.56 million viewers; the previous year, it logged 4.6 million total viewers. As recently as 2005, Miss USA averaged more than 8 million viewers on NBC. In its heyday, the pageant snared an average of 38 million viewers, though that was back in 1979.
In today’s announcement, IMG’s SVP Original Content Michael Antinoro said the Fox deal “marks a new era for The Miss Universe Organization as a whole.”
“As the broadcast leader in innovative and groundbreaking live events, Fox is the perfect partner as we look to implement new and exciting changes to this show and the franchise.”
While changing networks, the Miss Universe pageant is sticking at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino that’s hosted many Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants over the years. Miss Universe is distributed to about 190 countries and territories.