ABC President Paul Lee on ‘Rising Star’s’ Slow Start: ‘We Were a Little Disappointed With the Numbers’

TCA 2014: Lee adds that he believes the competition’s voting method will revolutionize reality TV and spawn copycats


ABC President Paul Lee defended the slow start of summer show “Rising Star” early on during his executive session Tuesday at the summer Television Critics Association.

“We were a little disappointed with the numbers, we wanted it a little bit higher,” Lee admitted of the show’s soft ratings.

“It’s a live show — unlike the other talent shows where you get the pre-packaged first episodes — so we sort of had to learn on the roll,” he continued. “I think they learned on the roll extremely well, and the episodes now are really high quality.”

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Lee touted a rise in Twitter interaction surrounding the interactive show as one measurement for success.

“I think that revolution that we did — which is to say now we’re truly giving you live voting — it took about a week to get the West Coast set right. I think you’re going to see that idea roll through reality now, because you now really do have the ability to say, ‘I vote this person [through] now.’”

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On NBC’s last-minute move to take thunder away from the “Rising Star” premiere with a new “America’s Got Talent,” Lee simply said, “We live in a competitive world, we all compete.”

“Rising Star” debuted to a 1.5 fast national rating in the key 18-49 demographic on June 22, according to preliminary numbers available at the time. That evening, “AGT” had a 2.1 in the demo.