Fox’s Reilly to Exit After ‘Idol’ Ratings Decline

Kevin Reilly, who led Fox Broadcasting to the top of the network TV ratings, will step down after a loss of viewers marked by the declining popularity of “American Idol.”

Reilly, 51, will leave as entertainment chairman at the 21st Century Fox Inc. unit by the end of June, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday. While a replacement is sought, his management team will report to Peter Rice, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Networks Group.

“It felt like the timing was as right as it could be,” Reilly said in the statement, calling the network’s new slate of programs for September “robust.”

Fox has struggled to develop shows to replace the declining “American Idol,” which has seen its audience shrink about 60 percent from its peak in the mid-2000s. In the just-ended season, the network placed second in the 18-to-49 age group advertisers target most, behind Comcast Corp.’s resurgent NBC, and last in total viewers.

Like other broadcast networks, Fox is adjusting to changes in consumer viewing habits driven by year-round programming on cable TV and online services like Netflix.

To adapt, networks are experimenting with their schedules - - bringing on shows during the summer months, instead of just the traditional September-to-May season.

Reilly had said he wanted to scrap the so-called pilot season that drives up prices for writers and talent during crucial periods each year.

Miniseries Revival

The networks are also creating more event-style programs, like miniseries.

At presentations to advertisers in New York this month, Reilly highlighted short-run series such as “24: Live Another Day,” a 12-episode revival of the action-espionage series featuring Kiefer Sutherland that ran for eight seasons through 2010.

Shows with definitive endings will help the network draw audiences year-round, Reilly told advertisers.

“We’re making Fox a 24/7, 365-day experience,” he said at the network’s so-called upfront presentation.

The network’s 2014-2015 lineup includes two, 10-episode series: “Gracepoint,” based on the British TV murder-mystery “Broadchurch,” and “Wayward Pines,” from M. Night Shyamalan, who directed “The Sixth Sense.”

Fox, based in New York, rose 1 percent to $35.51 yesterday in New York. The class A shares have gained 1 percent this year.

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