You can look at FOX’s new Sunday-night schedule a couple of ways: It could be the end of the Animation Domination block, or it could be a return to the network’s history on the night, mixing animated and live-action shows.
The latter is how FOX Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly is viewing it. The move of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and new comedy “Mulaney” to join stalwarts “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” is a return to when shows like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “That ’70s Show” co-existed with the animated shows.
“We’re going to remain in [the animation] business for as long as we’re in business. But at the end of the day, comedy is comedy,” Reilly says. “If you look at this season in particular … if you kick out some of the shows like ‘Big Bang Theory’ that have been on for seven seasons, five seasons or more, one of the challenges right now in live-action comedy … is that without some protection, even in this more on-demand world, having a lead-in and some time-period protection is still meaningful.”
The hope is that some “Simpsons” and “Family Guy” fans — along with NFL viewers, a good portion of whom stick around when FOX airs late-afternoon games in the fall — will linger for “Brooklyn” and “Mulaney” and give them a chance to grow.
“We love the comedies that we have and are returning to the schedule, but I just couldn’t face it again having them exposed without some protection,” Reilly says. “So we utilized really some of the strongest assets we have, which is [the] Sunday football audience that flows in the fall. We have seven doubleheader games in the fall; it really juices up our Sunday night. And two of our most consistent and highest-rated shows year in and year out with ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy.’ And again, that was the history of FOX. That’s where we started.”