CBS drops the Monday broadcast of its struggling 'Rock Star: INXS', episodes to air Sundays on VH1
By Reality TV World staff, 08/03/2005
CBS announced today that, effective immediately, the network has dropped the Monday night broadcast of its struggling Rock Star: INXS reality series from its primetime schedule. The pre-taped weekly half-hour Rock Star broadcast that documents the contestants' behind-the-scenes activities and song selection process will now air on VH1 on Sundays at 8PM ET/PT.
Rock Star's one-hour Tuesday night performance show and half-hour Wednesday night results show will continue to air on CBS... at least for now.
Although highly promoted by CBS, Rock Star: INXS -- produced by Survivor and The Apprentice creator Mark Burnett -- has proven to be a ratings bust since its initial broadcast. Rock Star delivered disappointing ratings for its special hour-long premiere on Monday, July 11, averaging only 5.6 million viewers and finishing fourth in its 9PM ET/PT hour.
Rock Star's ratings perked up a bit for its second episode that followed the July 12 premiere of Big Brother 6 -- something that given the presence of the long-running CBS reality show as its lead-in, was widely expected. Although Rock Star's second episode only drew 6.14 million viewers, the show did finish second its time period among both the Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 demographics -- a decent performance considering that due to its broadcast of the MLB All Star Game, Fox was also atypically broadcasting in the 10PM hour
However, without Big Brother as its lead-in, the following night's July 13 results show got completely buried in its 9:30-10:00PM timeslot, drawing only 3.35 million viewers. Hoping that its decision to air the show at 9:30PM (where, unlike the Monday broadcast that had the benefit of Two And A Half Men as a strong lead-in, it had the weak The King Of Queens as its lead-in) was the cause of the Wednesday broadcast's poor performance, CBS announced the following week that Rock Star's results show would start airing in the 9-9:30PM time period (with King moving to 9:30PM.)
Unfortunately for CBS, Rock Star continued to delivery underwhelming ratings despite the network's initial attempt to tweak its schedule. Although its second Monday episode finished second in the hour among Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54, its total viewership figure actually dropped slightly to 5.53 million viewers. With Big Brother 6 as its lead-in, Rock Star's second Tuesday performance broadcast once again did somewhat better -- 6.22 million viewers and first in its hour among Adults 18-49 (3.0/8), Adults 18-34 (2.4/08), and tied for first in Adults 25-54 (3.5/09) -- however its second Wednesday results show still tanked despite the time period change, drawing only 3.3 million viewers.
Without a Big Brother broadcast to serve as its lead-in, Rock Star's Monday and Wednesday episodes have continued to underperform, resulting in CBS finally announcing its decision to bounce the pre-taped Monday broadcast over to its Viacom-owned cable sibling. VH1 will also gain the right to rebroadcast Rock Star's Monday and Wednesday episodes as part of the deal, something it plans to do beginning on Saturday, August 13.
Rock Star's poor ratings make it the third straight new Mark Burnett reality series to flop (following last summer's The Casino and this past winter's The Contender.) Despite his recent track record, Burnett claims that his recent ratings failures are more magnified due to the huge ratings success of his Survivor and The Apprentice series. "Am I disappointed? Yes," Burnett told The Wall Street Journal. "But when you've had the level of success that I've had, people hold you to a different standard. Nobody bats a thousand in this business."
While Burnett is correct that no television producer sees every new series that they create become a ratings hit, his additional comments, in which he matter-of-factly states that he measures whether a series is "successful" based not on whether it is a ratings hit or proves profitable to his network partner but instead based on his personal financial gain comes across as stunningly arrogant, even for Hollywood titans.
During his interview, Burnett brags that it is "simplistic thinking" to judge a show's success based only on its ratings. He notes that "some of the biggest successes of my career" have been shows like The Contender, a series that holds the distinction of being the most expensive reality series ever produced (NBC reportedly paid Burnett and his production partners over $2 million an episode) but was a colossal ratings flop for his network partner. In addition to NBC's production fees, Burnett and his partners generated millions of dollars in additional revenue via product integration fees and the ability to control the boxing rights to the boxers who appeared on The Contender, therefore based on Burnett's logic, the fact that the show delivered poor ratings and NBC is believed to have lost millions of dollars on the series doesn't mean it that the show wasn't a "success." Somehow you'd have to think that NBC would disagree.
Given that, according to the Journal, CBS is paying him "in the neighborhood of $50 million" to produce 38 episodes of Rock Star: INXS, Burnett will no doubt deem the ratings-challenged reality talent competition to be another "success," however even a somewhat more candid CBS publicly disagrees. "It's not a broad-based rating success," CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler told the paper. "But it's done okay in getting some younger viewers."
Burnett also defends himself against Hollywood whispers that he isn't open to suggestions on how to improve struggling shows and has stretched himself too thin (in addition to the currently airing Rock Star and last winter's The Contender, Burnett typically has numerous other projects in development at any given moment -- right now the list includes both Martha Stewart and Donald Trump editions of The Apprentice for NBC's fall schedule, a new fall Survivor edition for CBS, and an upcoming new daytime talk show for Stewart.) "That's ridiculous," Burnett told the paper. "Networks keep buying my shows because they know at the very least I deliver outstanding quality."
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