The top entertainment executive at
The departure of Kevin Reilly as chairman of entertainment for Fox comes less than three weeks after he presented a new fall schedule to advertisers that the network hoped would turn around its fortunes. The company did not immediately name a replacement.
Fox slumped to fourth place in viewership this season, with only two of its shows that launched this last season returning in the fall. Besides an inability to launch several new successful sitcoms and dramas, the network's longtime ratings juggernaut
In an interview, Reilly said his heart was no longer in the job.
"I've been doing this for 11 years, at Fox and
Reilly had an unusually long stay in his position. Top network programming jobs are famously difficult because of intense competition that has only grown in recent years with the entry of well-financed competitors including
All of this has made it increasingly difficult for networks that rely on ratings to bring in billions of dollars in advertising revenue.
"Fox has some good shows, and shows that have the added benefit of attracting younger audiences — but their shows just didn't have a lot of viewers," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at the New York advertising firm Horizon Media. "And then the floor just collapsed under
"American Idol" was once known in the industry as "the death star" because it flattened every other program in its path. It was one of Reilly's biggest ratings drivers, once routinely averaging more than 20 million viewers an episode.
That audience has since dropped to about 10 million viewers amid more competition, with NBC's rival singing show
Reilly had a few recent successes. He introduced two new hits: the drama "Sleepy Hollow" and police comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" with
"We've been in a down cycle for two years now, with 'Idol' coming down to Earth," Reilly acknowledged. "We have put on successful shows, but as your [viewership] goes down it gets harder to program and launch other new shows."
Fox, which is owned by
Two leading internal candidates are John Landgraf, who runs the FX cable networks, and Dana Walden, co-chairman of 20th Century Fox Television studio. Peter Rice, who is chairman and chief executive of the Fox Networks Group, will manage Reilly's unit until a replacement is named.
Reilly joined Fox in July 2007 as entertainment president after exiting NBC in a messy shake-up orchestrated by former
Within two months, Reilly had landed at Fox and was making a splash at the network, which had been struggling creatively. During Reilly's long tenure at Fox, the network also launched such hits as "Glee,"
Reilly also said he would continue to root for Fox as the shows he has developed launch in the coming months.
"If Fox gets a few breaks, and a couple of our new shows take off, Fox will be right back in the game," Reilly said. "I hope that happens as I will be cheering from the sidelines."