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'American Idol': New judges, new nights

From left, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy

From left, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson at the "American Idol" New Jersey news conference Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2010. Credit: Fox

'American Idol" is on the move.

When season 10 launches on Jan. 19, TV's biggest show will be on a Wednesday-Thursday schedule. That is a huge change from the long and successful Tuesday-Wednesday one-two punch. Why?

1. TUESDAYS WERE MURDER No secret that "Idol's" numbers have slid for all sorts of reasons, but over the years, Tuesday had become a less fun place to be. Not only has "NCIS: Los Angeles" emerged as one of TV's most-viewed dramas, but "Dancing With the Stars" is resurgent. The show's 12th season will (probably) begin in March, and - while "Idol" execs will never admit it - "Dancing's" Tuesday 9 p.m. results show was hurting the Fox hit.

2. STRIKE WHILE THE IRON REMAINS AT LEAST WARM Many millions will watch "Idol" wherever it ends up on the Fox schedule. Most shows don't have that advantage, and audiences often evaporate the minute a show vacates its established beachhead - one reason "Fringe" fans are worried about the new-year switch to Fridays. As "Idol" ages, audiences may be less inclined to shift with it to a new night. So if ever there's a time to move, now is it.

3. THURSDAY IS WIDE OPEN At least 8 p.m. is. CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" has worked at 8, but Fox figures viewers will jump to the last half-hour of "Idol" for the final results. For Fox, NBC's "Community" at 8 and the new "Perfect Couples" at 8:30 are irrelevant - the entire all-comedy night is expected to be heavily time-shifted by viewers anyway. ABC? Airing at 8 is "Wipeout," which "Idol" will wipe out.


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