Originally, ‘Touch’ was going to take the slot currently occupied by ‘Alcatraz’ on March 19. Yesterday, FOX announced several changes to its schedule.
‘Touch’ will now air on Thursday nights after the ‘American Idol’ results show. ‘The Finder’ occupies this slot right now, but the show will end its run on March 8. An encore of the preview episode of ‘Touch’ will air March 15, and the series will officially premiere March 22 at 9/8c.
‘Alcatraz’ will stay in its current Monday time of 9/8c. A special two-hour episode will air on Monday, March 5 at 8/7c, and the season finale of ‘Alcatraz’ is on Monday, March 26 at 8/7c. Starting April 2, ‘House’ will move to a new time on Monday, 9/8c. ‘Bones’ will move to the 8/7c time on Monday nights, and April 2 is the date for the show’s spring premiere.
Why change the schedule now? There are several reasons. A few weeks ago it was announced that ‘House’ will end after this season concludes. By moving the show back an hour, the network knows the loyal fans will follow. ‘Bones’ also has a solid group of followers, and the show is currently on hiatus, so fans are not going to be too upset to learn that ‘Bones’ will have a new night and time for the spring season. With ‘House’ and ‘Bones’ on Mondays, FOX will be confident the numbers for that night will be solid. Also, Monday nights has not been kind to genre shows this season. FOX started with three new major genre dramas on its plate this year: ‘Terra Nova,’ ‘Alcatraz,’ and ‘Touch.’ All three got attention because of the names attached to them (Spielberg, Abrams, Sutherland). As of right now, two out of the three have underperformed.
Before you start with the comments, know this: I am not critiquing the quality of ‘Terra Nova’ or ‘Alcatraz.’ This is about the numbers, and the TV business is all about the numbers.
It is a fact that both ‘Terra Nova’ and ‘Alcatraz’ have not done well. Considering the expense of the show, ‘Terra Nova’ hurt the network. The numbers do not justify the cost of the show. Back in December, the network mentioned that a decision about the show would come in January. It is now almost March. With each passing day, the chances of ‘Terra Nova’ getting a second season decrease. The numbers for ‘Alcatraz’ are slightly better than ‘Terra Nova,’ but not by much. The buzz about the new show has faded, and it is highly unlikely that a new wave of people will start watching soon. The costs to produce ‘Alcatraz’ is lower than ‘Terra Nova,’ but neither series shows signs of increasing its audience size if a second season is granted. Without a potential for growth, the network will worry about making a profit, and making a profit is paramount for every TV broadcast network. This is why the chance for either show to get renewed is 50/50; both shows are “on the bubble.”
FOX does not want to see all three of its new genre shows die this year. By moving ‘Touch’ to after ‘American Idol,’ the network hopes a large chunk of the massive ‘Idol’ audience will stay tuned to the new Kiefer Sutherland drama. Although the ratings for ‘Idol’ have fallen this year, the show is still has high ratings; Thursday night is the results show, and it brings in around 16-18 million viewers a week. If ‘Touch’ can retain a good portion of the audience, then the network will be pleased. Sutherland brought FOX high ratings with ’24,’ and the network is counting on this time period and his name to make ‘Touch’ a success.
‘Touch’ will premiere Thursday, March 22 at 9/8c on FOX.