TV Viewers Still Expect Summer Off

When Fox launched Keen Eddie on June 3, it wasn’t looking to burn off the series during the summer viewing doldrums. On the contrary, it was hoping the show, originally intended as a midseason replacement, would be a sleeper hit. But after decades of networks running burnoffs, viewers may be conditioned to tune out summer shows.

A month into Keen Eddie’s 13-episode run, the offbeat action-comedy is averaging a 3.7/6 rating in households and a 2.4 in adults 18-49. Media buyers expressed little surprise at the low ratings. “People assume it’s not on the fall schedule, so they don’t want to get invested in a show that will be on for only a month or two,” said Steve Sternberg, svp, director of audience analysis at Magna Global USA.

Whether viewers can be lured to invest in summer fare is a key question for Fox, which will launch the prime-time soap The O.C., from directors Doug Liman and McG, on Aug. 5. Some buyers predict viewers are more likely to tune in to a show that debuts later in the summer. “The positioning to audiences and to advertisers of The O.C. is of an early fall launch,” said John Rash, chief broadcast negotiator for Campbell-Mithun. “And fall series are generally perceived to have a much greater degree of permanence than summer series.”

Fox has paired Keen Eddie, from executive producer Warren Littlefield, with American Idol spinoff American Juniors in an effort to maintain its 18-49 dominance on Tuesdays.