Fox Unveils Fall 2015 Schedule: American Idol to End its Run, Empire Stays Put, X-Files Gets Airdate
American Idol, once an unstoppable force on Fox's schedule, will end its run next year after one final farewell season.
The decision to end Idol after 15 seasons comes due to the show's continued declines in the ratings. Once a powerhouse–attracting 31 million viewers in the 2005-2006 TV season–the show has collapsed in recent seasons (averaging 9.6 million viewers this year and 11.6 million when Live+7 DVR/VOD data is included).
According to Fox insiders, the end of Idol was accelerated by the rise of YouTube (where talent like Justin Bieber and Lana Del Rey were discovered) and the success of NBC's The Voice. Rather than attempt to keep Idol on life support via gimmicks, the network decided it would be best to bow out gracefully. (That doesn't rule out a return to the format one day, they add).
Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. will be back, along with host Ryan Seacrest, for one final edition. The farewell Idol also promises to "pay tribute to the past 14 seasons," Fox says.
Meanwhile, Fox is hoping to turn fall into a ratings Empire.
The network's not-so-secret weapon, which aired in midseason this past year, will head to fall, but continue to air in its regular timeslot, Wednesdays at 9/8c. The hip-hop drama's episodic order has been increased to 18, and Fox plans to split the season into two, giving Empire a fall and a spring run.
Empire is just one of the returning shows Fox hopes to use to launch its new series. Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman say their strategy is to schedule their new shows "strategically, market them relentlessly and create events that break through and captivate viewers across every platform."
Big events include the return of The X-Files, which will debut on Sunday, January 24, following the NFL's NFC Championship Game. The show then settles into its normal slot, Mondays at 8/7c, for five weeks starting Jan. 25.
Fox's biggest gamble will be on Tuesdays, where two new comedies will have to jumpstart the night at 8/7c: Grandfathered, followed by The Grinder, which stars Rob Lowe as a TV lawyer who moves back home after his show is canceled. At 9/8c, Scream Queens, a campy horror comedy from Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy, will air as a limited-run series. When Scream Queens ends, New Girl will return in midseason at 9/8c, paired with new comedy The Guide to Surviving Life.
On Mondays, Gotham stays pat at 8/7c, followed by Minority Report, from Steven Spielberg's Amblin TV. Then in midseason, X-Files takes Gotham's slot for five weeks. (Gotham, which has a 22-episode order, will return after that.) While Minority Report is on hiatus, Fox hopes to take advantage of Gotham's geek cred by launching another DC Comics title behind it, the new drama Lucifer, starring Tom Ellis (Rush).
Rosewood, starring Morris Chestnut as a Miami pathologist, kicks off Wednesdays at 8/7c, followed by Empire. In winter, American Idol leads off the night, then The Frankenstein Code, about a cop given a second chance at life, warms the seat until Empire's return.
Fox will reunite Bones (renewed for an 11th season) with Sleepy Hollow on Thursdays; the two were paired during Sleepy's first season.
Fridays will stick with reality shows (MasterChef Junior and World's Funniest Fails) while Sunday's lineup (The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, The Last Man on Earth) also stay the same.
On deck are the animated series Bordertown, from Seth MacFarlane and Mark Hentermann. Fox also once again confirmed that the special Grease: Live (starring Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens) will air on Sunday, January 31, 2016.
Shows picked up also include Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, Bob's Burgers, Boom, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bullseye, Empire, Family Guy, Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, Masterchef, Masterchef Junior, The Simpsons, Sleepy Hollow, So You Think You Can Dance and World's Funniest.
Here's the Fox schedule:
MONDAY: 8/7c Gotham [winter: The X-Files]; 9/8c Minority Report (NEW) [winter: Lucifer (NEW)]
TUESDAY: 8/7c Grandfathered (NEW); 8:30/7:30c The Grinder (NEW); 9/8c Scream Queens (NEW) [winter: New Girl, The Guide to Surviving Life (NEW)]
WEDNESDAY: 8/7c Rosewood (NEW) [winter: American Idol]; 9/8c Empire [winter: The Frankenstein Code (NEW)]
THURSDAY: 8/7c Bones; 9/8c Sleepy Hollow
FRIDAY: 8/7c MasterChef Junior; 9/8c World's Funniest
SATURDAY: 8/7c Fox Sports Saturday: College Football
SUNDAY: 7/6c NFL on Fox; 7:30/6:30c The OT/Bob's Burgers; 8/7c The Simpsons; 8:30/7:30c Brooklyn Nine-Nine; 9/8c Family Guy; 9:30/8:30c The Last Man on Earth