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Why move 'American Idol?' Away from 'DWTS,' Paula

Paula Abdul, a judge on

Paula Abdul, a judge on "American Idol," poses backstage following the show's finale in Los Angeles. (AP Photo, June 5, 2009) Photo Credit: AP Photo

   "American Idol" - as you know - is moving, and when the announcement was made last week, I asked myself the rhetorical question - why? - and came up with the rhetorical answer "beats me."

  But it beats me no longer. I've given this a bit of thought, and have come up with four key reasons. ( Hint: "Idol" avoids "Dancing with the Stars" and Paula Abdul.) This'll run Sunday in "Fanfare."

 "American Idol" is on the move.
  Now, to the question: Why?
  On Jan. 19, TV's biggest show will launch on a Wednesday, with the results show airing on Thursday. That of course is a huge change from the long and successful Tuesday/Wednesday one-two punch.
  Why? To the answers:
 
 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:LA" emerged at 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"
will never admit it - the Tuesday 9 p.m. results show was putting a hurt on the Fox hit in the spring. Now, new Fox game show, "Million Dollar Money Drop" will have the distinct pleasure of going up against the "DWTS" results show.

 2.) Move while you still can, or - a variation - strike while the iron remains at least warm. Many millions of  people will watch "American Idol" wherever it ends up on the Fox schedule - with the possible exception of Saturday. Most shows don't have that advantage, and audiences evaporate the minute they vacate their established
beachhead - a reason "Fringe" fans are worried about the new year switch to Fridays. But as "Idol" slides deeper into late middle age, audiences may be less and less inclined to shift with it to a new night. So if ever there's at time to move, now's the time.

 3.) Thursday is wide open. At least Thursday 8 p.m. is. "The Big Bang Theory" (under 15 million viewers) 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 8 p.m. comedy block is 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.


 4.) No Paula Abdul. I save this to last, but think it critical too. Abdul's new CBS series, "Live to Dance," launches Jan. 4 on Tuesdays. By moving "Idol" to Wednesdays, Fox avoids an awkward face-off - and maybe even a bit of viewer confusion, or at least subliminal confusion. Really, how odd to watch Paula on Ch. 2 while those new judges are carping away on Ch. 5.


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