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Fox announces 'American Idol 5' broadcast schedule, Top 12 finalists to be revealed March 9

By Reality TV World staff, 12/20/2005 

Fox has announced the full broadcast lineup for the first two months of American Idol 5, an eight-week schedule that will end with the fifth season of the smash-hit reality series revealing its Top 12 finalists on Thursday, March 9, 2006.

As the network announced earlier this month, American Idol's fifth season will debut on Tuesday, January 17 at 8PM ET/PT with a special two-hour premiere that will cover the competition's San Francisco auditions. Another one-hour broadcast -- covering Idol 5's Austin tryouts -- will air on Wednesday, January 18 at 8PM ET/PT, followed by five more Tuesday and Wednesday broadcasts covering the show's fifth season tryouts in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver and Greensboro.

Once the broadcasts of the regional tryouts are over, coverage of American Idol 5's Hollywood round will begin airing on Wednesday, February 8 at 8PM ET/PT. Thankfully, the Hollywood coverage will fill only three broadcasts, ending with the announcement of the show's Top 24 semifinalists -- twelve men and twelve women -- on Wednesday, February 15.

After the semi-finalists are announced, the show's weekly performance shows will start, resulting in the show adopting a thrice-weekly broadcast schedule similar to the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday format used for last season's American Idol 4. The twelve male semi-finalists will perform on Tuesday, February 21, followed by the twelve female semi-finalists on Wednesday, February 22, after which an hour-long live results show broadcast on Thursday, February 23 at 8PM ET/PT will send the two male and female singers who received the fewest votes home.

The next two weeks will continue the same thrice-weekly format, ending with a live one-hour results show broadcast on Thursday, March 9 at 9PM ET/PT that will reveal the season's Top 12 finalists.

Assuming CBS does, as is widely expected, premiere Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island on Thursday, March 2, Fox's scheduling will -- presumably intentionally -- result in a two-week Thursday night showdown of television's two most popular reality shows. Earlier this month, Fox had announced that despite months of media reports that it had been considering attacking CBS' powerful Thursday night lineup by moving Idol to a Wednesday/Thursday schedule, it had decided not to risk upsetting the ratings of its biggest hit and would instead keep the show on its traditional Tuesday/Wednesday schedule. By scheduling Idol 5's three week semi-finals schedule to include Thursdays instead of, as it did last season, Mondays, Fox gains the ability to test the show's Thursday night potential without jeopardizing the season's overall ratings.

American Idol has previously aired one only results show against Survivor -- but unlike the hour-long Idol 5 results show plans Fox has now announced, Idol's only previous Thursday night results show broadcast lasted just thirty minutes. During Idol's third season, a presidential press conference forced Fox to air Idol 3's Top 8 results show on Thursday, April 15, 2004. The last-minute move put the thirty-minute results show up against the eleventh episode of Survivor: All-Stars. Survivor easily won the battle among all key demographics, averaging about 18.5 million viewers (compared to Idol's 15.3 million) during the 8-8:30PM ET/PT in which the two programs aired head-to-head.

(Photo credit Fox)

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