Fox is getting into the revival game this fall and it’s partially due to ABC. Fox snatched up its competitor’s recently-canceled Tim Allen sitcom “Last Man Standing,” and because of the staggering success of the Disney-owned broadcaster’s “Roseanne” revival.
While Dana Walden, Chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, said Fox’s initial interest in the series “had nothing to do with ‘Roseanne,'” the working class family sitcom’s stellar ratings did not go unnoticed when they were eyeing their own revival.
“You know, obviously I think everyone took a good hard look at the performance of ‘Roseanne,” Walden told TheWrap during a conference call ahead of the network’s upfront presentation Monday. “It did so well, and it certainly did remind us that we have a huge iconic comedy star in our Fox family in Tim Allen.”
“And we’ve been talking to Tim throughout the year, as Gary [Newman, fellow Chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group] said a little bit earlier,” Walden continued. “We tried to move ‘Last Man Standing’ over last year when ABC decided not to move forward. It’s a really funny show.
“We always felt like for whatever, you know, ABC didn’t really prioritize ‘Last Man Standing,’ and — notwithstanding that it drew 8 and half million viewers every Friday night with very little promotion — we always wondered how it would do if it was given, you know, a better opportunity and prioritized more in terms of the network’s marketing agenda.
“So I would say we were emboldened, I would say, by the performance of ‘Roseanne.’ And that certainly made us think that this is a really good opportunity, that for broadcast viewers a beloved star in a really funny multi-cam that has, again, a little bit easier entry point than a serialized comedy was a good idea. And, you know, ‘Roseanne’ certainly confirmed that.”
Fox announced last Friday that “Last Man Standing” would return as part of its fall line-up for the 2018-19 season, with cast members Allen, Nancy Travis, Jonathan Adams, Amanda Fuller, Christoph Sanders and Jordan Masterson also set to return.
The decision comes after ABC caused an uproar with the show’s fans by announcing that it had been canceled despite its steady ratings (it averaged about 8.3 million weekly viewers on Friday nights when factoring in seven days of delayed viewing).
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey was forced to issue a denial after Allen, outspoken in his disappointment about the cancellation, suggested that his conservative politics may have been a factor.
The network’s decision largely came down to the fact that “Last Man Standing” was produced at an outside studio, 20th Century Fox, making the bar for renewal much higher. Its new home at Fox aligns the show’s network and studio, an increasingly common trend in broadcast where a vertically integrated ownership structure has become key to a show’s financial viability.
Fox’s upfront event — when it will present its new shows to potential advertisers — will take place Monday afternoon at New York City’s Beacon Theatre.