Fox’s bold shift of “American Idol” to the competitive turf of Thursday night adds another twist for television’s No. 1 show as new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler come aboard.
The long-ensconced Tuesday performance show will move to Wednesdays and the results show will shift forward a night to Thursdays when the singing contest returns Jan. 19 for a 10th season.
It adds more uncertainty to the performance of “Idol,” which, like most aging shows, has begun to struggle with the high ratings it once easily reached.
Last season’s audience dropped 8 percent, with ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” edging “Idol” from the weekly top spot several times.
But the scheduling change could prove a winning overall strategy for Fox while giving a vote of confidence to up-and-comer sophomore “Glee,” another music-based hit for the network.
“Thursday has been a weak night for Fox, and at the same time a very important night to advertisers,” including movie studios and retailers, media analyst Steve Sternberg said in an e-mail. “Why not maximize their advertising revenue?”
Even if Fox is braced for further decline in “Idol” ratings, the show still should dominate on Thursdays, Sternberg said. It also will provide coattails for the crime drama “Bones,” moving forward to 9 p.m.
“Glee,” which airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m., was scheduled to move to 9 p.m. after the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. Now it will remain in the earlier slot as the lead-in for two comedies: “Raising Hope” and newcomer “Mixed Signals.”
Fox pushed ahead with the revamped schedule after CBS moved its hardy “Survivor” off Thursday nights to Wednesdays.
While CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” has flourished since moving to Thursdays, Sternberg called it the night’s only strong competition and noted that comedies have tended to lose viewers opposite “American Idol.”
Fox also said the results show would remain at an hour, a switch from a decision announced last spring to cut the typically padded episode in half.
The performance show was to be expanded to 90 minutes from an hour in response to viewer requests for more songs from contestants, Fox said at that time. The new schedule lists two-hour episodes through Feb. 16.
Such extended performance shows allow the network to capitalize on ratings that typically exceed those of the less-watched results shows.
Fox’s new schedule also includes the addition of the animated series “Bob’s Burgers” on Sundays, starting Jan. 9; the move of “Fringe” to Fridays on Jan. 28; the Feb. 7 debut of the police drama “The Chicago Code”; and the April 6 debut of the Christian Slater sitcom “Breaking In” (working title).
“American Dad” shifts to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 and “Human Target” moves to 9 p.m. Wednesdays starting Jan. 26.