Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly says AMC's "Walking Dead" winning in the ratings last season is a sign that cable and network TV should be held to the same standards. He also says the traditional broadcast season is over.
"Welcome to the party," Reilly said of "Walking Dead" at a Television Critics Assn. panel Thursday. "I think we're all in the same game."
He told critics that as they declare ratings winners and losers, "all of the analysis to be equal." Reilly also repeated that Fox will take a more year-round approach to programming, airing fewer repeats and debuting shows throughout the year. He said it was "crazy" that networks launch 80 or more shows all at once in the fall.
The network already started in a year-round direction when it announced earlier this year plans to air "24: Live Another Day" and another limited-run series, "Wayward Pines," after the end of the traditional September-to-May TV season in 2014.
Reilly started his panel Thursday by playing a "Portlandia" skit about TV shows, in which two couples struggle not to spoil anything about the many shows they are binge-viewing. He said it was indicative of how people watch TV today, and that it no longer made sense to judge the success of a show based on the numbers it received the morning after its initial airing.
He pointed to Fox shows that jump dramatically in the 18-49 demographic over the week after they air. Fox's top-rated scripted show, "The Family Guy," went last season from a 2.7 rating in overnights to a 3.7 over the week, Reilly said. "The Following" went from a 2.6 to a 4.3.
Despite all the attention to cable shows, only four would crack the broadcast top 50, Reilly said. He said Fox's "The Mindy Project," which earns only so-so ratings by broadcast standards, handily beats "Breaking Bad," "Dexter," "Justified" and "Mad Men." Of course, people have to pay a premium to watch "Dexter" on Showtime, while "Mindy" is essentially free. The other shows air on basic cable.
He also said that while he's a huge fan of FX's "Louie," "you have to combine 'Louie' and 'Girls' together to get even close to the 'Mindy' rating."
And though he likes "Portlandia" enough to have played the clip, he added that you would have to "play 'Portlandia' 12 times to equal the rating of 'New Girl.'"
Is this beginning to feel like the old commercial about how many bowls of other cereals you'd have to eat to equal one bowl of Total?
Last season, people preferred flesh eaters. Even holding the zombie drama "The Walking Dead" to the same standard as broadcast shows, it was the top-rated scripted show in the key demo. (CBS's "NCIS" was tops in total viewers.)
To defend jokes about women and minorities in the upcoming "Dads," Reilly noted that sitcoms often take time to develop. He read scathing initial reviews of "The Big Bang Theory," which last season was the top scripted show in the demo after "Dead."