Miss America is going to have to find somewhere else to hang her tiara, as network host TLC has decided against renewing its deal to carry the annual pageant.
Despite drawing a cable-high 4.52 million viewers on Jan. 30, an increase of 28 percent from its year-ago delivery of 3.54 million viewers, the 89-year-old Miss America Pageant is largely seen as a relic of a bygone era. The program has been relegated to basic cable since 2005, when ABC dropped the beauty contest after a nine-year stewardship. Before that, NBC had been home to the Atlantic City institution for 30 years.
In addition to the pageant’s fading relevance, Miss America was more or less orphaned in July 2008, when the executive responsible for landing the property, former TLC president and general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes, was let go after a little more than a year at the helm.
TLC picked up the rights to the pageant in 2007, after CMT had completed its two-year stint as official TV partner. In its final year on the Viacom net, Miss America averaged 2.39 million viewers.
While the cable numbers were relatively strong, the ratings were nowhere near what they once had been in the pageant’s 1960s and ‘70s heyday, when the broadcast would draw in excess of 20 million households.
“We are happy that TLC was part of the modernization and revitalization of the Miss America pageant,” said a TLC spokesperson, by way of announcing the network’s decision. “This year we delivered record ratings, besting any of its prior performances on cable. However, our three year deal has concluded and we have chosen not to renew. We wish the Miss America Organization well.”
As yet, no network has stepped forth to claim the rights to the pageant.