Fox predicted to renew 'American Idol' soon


CKX Inc. CEO Mike Ferrel is thrilled with the ratings being posted by “American Idol” in Season 10 – the first without Simon Cowell. And Ferrel, whose company owns the rights to the Idol TV shows around the globe, predicts that Fox will soon renew for the next season.

While early season viewership is down from Season 9, Ferrel was upbeat in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. 19 Entertainment, which owns Idol, is far and away the biggest revenue component of CKX, which also owns the rights to the names and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.

The objective, Ferrel said, was to have some revitalization and freshness in the show sans-Cowell. “I think that everyone across America is in agreement that we’ve found those components. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, I think by everyone’s definition, bring that revitalization to the show. There’s an overwhelming consensus among pundits. America has spoken,” Ferrel declared, and then quoted from various published reviews.

In addition to the new judges, Ferrel said the retooling was intended to “focus on the music and focus on the kids.”

Focusing on 18-49 numbers, Ferrel noted that Idol drew far more young viewers that all competing networks combined and retained most of that audience week-to-week. Yes, Idol moved this year from Tuesday-Wednesday to Wednesday-Thursday. But with the tough competition on Thursday, Ferrel noted that Fox has enjoyed its strongest 18-49 performance on Thursday since 1995 and the most total viewers since 1993.

CKX’s current contract with Fox expires after the current season, but Ferrel was sounding confident of renewal. He said no date has yet been set for beginning renewal talks. “I anticipate that this is going to happen in the coming weeks. Perhaps it could run as late as April,” Ferrel said, due to the coming Upfront presentation for next season advertisers. “I believe the Upfronts are in the first week in May…certainly they would want that in place before they go to the Upfronts.”

CKX, by the way, has already renewed Ryan Seacrest for Season 11, so there’s no doubt that there will be a Season 11.

RBR-TVBR observation: Things are going exactly as the top dogs at Fox had hoped. American Idol is proving once again to be the #1 show in television during the second half of the season and there’s lots of good buzz about Simon Cowell’s new show, “X Factor,” which could become the #1 show in the 18-49 demo for the first half of the 2011-2012 season. CKX doesn’t own that one, but it looks pretty certain that Fox will want to keep Idol around for a while yet.