Will Gotham Be the Superhero to Save Fox's Falling Ratings? - Analyst Blog


Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc 's ( FOXA ) television network FOX has suffered from declining ratings in the last season as both new and returning shows did not click well with the audience. Ratings declined in both overall and the coveted 18-49 age group much to the network's dismay.

Fox Network's flagship show American Idol , now in its thirteenth year, failed to woo audiences prompting the channel to cut down its timing. Other returning shows like Glee , X-Factor , New Girl and The Mindy Project also witnessed a fall in their ratings.

In fact, even most of the new shows tanked with the exception of horror drama Sleepy Hollow and comedy series Brooklyn 99 . Even this year's Super Bowl broadcast could not offset the falling show ratings of the troubled network.

Moreover, Fox Network, which competes with CBS Corp 's. ( CBS ) CBS Network and The Walt Disney Company's ( DIS ) ABC Network, found tepid response from advertisers when it unveiled its program slate for the upcoming fall season. Last shock of the disappointing season was the decision of Kevin Riley, longtime entertainment chief of the network, to walk out.

The network, now headed by new chief Peter Rice has emphasized the dire need of a new hit series to pull up the ratings.

Will Gotham Be the Answer?

Fox Networks' Gotham , one of the most anticipated shows this season, will trace the origin of Commissioner James Gordon, a perpetual ally of the city's caped crusader Batman. The series created by Bruno Heller of The Mentalist fame, will be set in pre-Batman Gotham City and will never feature its most celebrated resident, although a young Bruce Wayne will feature on the show. Gotham will also trace the origins of villains like Penguin, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Catwoman and ultimately, the Joker. Gordon will be played by Ben McKenzie.

Though hit shows are very difficult to predict, the kind of interest generated by Gotham may provide Fox some relief. The trailer of the series released online earlier in May had apparently garnered about six million views in the first five days.

Batman has always been a much liked super hero among all ages. Moreover, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the upcoming Time Warner Inc's ( TWX ) Batman Vs Superman (2016) movies have kept the buzz surrounding Batman very much alive. It will be very interesting to see how the viewers react to Gotham as it tries to answer what happened to the titular city and why at all it needed the Batman.

Moreover, the super hero genre is fast catching up on the small screen. Last year, ABC brought Marvel's Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D , a spin off of the movie The Avengers , to small screen that witnessed strong ratings. However, a jaded storyline failed to keep the viewer interest intact.

All these factors point toward a positive reaction to the series. We credit Fox Network's ability for bringing smart and critically acclaimed shows to prime time.  However, with Gotham , the network has a lot at stake financially. It remains to be seen how Gotham comes to the rescue of Fox when it premieres on Sep 22 and if it fails, will Fox Network's other hyped shows like Red Band Society pitch in for rescue?

At present, Twenty First Century carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: FOXA , TWX , CBS , DIS



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