For the second time in three years, Miss America is without a TV home.
Cable network CMT, which has aired the pageant each of the past two years, has decided not to pick up its option for the 2008 competition. The network had a two-year contract to air Miss America, with options to extend its deal through 2011.
After ratings dropped for the 2007 pageant, though, CMT opted to part ways with the 86-year-old pageant.
"While CMT deeply values its relationship with the Miss America Organization, the network has notified the organization of its plans not to exercise its option" for future broadcasts, CMT says in a statement.
The news comes shortly after NBC announced it was renewing its contract to air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants for three more years.
The Miss America Organization, unsurprisingly, is looking on the bright side, saying the move to cable from long-time network broadcaster ABC -- which dropped Miss America in 2004 -- has allowed it "to reach a new segment of audience."
"We are grateful for our two year run on CMT which successfully led us into cable television and enabled us to achieve our goal to attract more viewers," says Art McMaster, president and CEO of Miss America. "We were able to achieve the highest overall ratings in recent years for the Miss America Pageant by reaching over 36 million viewers over multiple telecasts."
In ratings parlance, "reach" means the number of viewers who watched at least one minute of a broadcast. In terms of average audience, though, the two pageants on CMT were way below even the lowest-rated ABC telecast of Miss America. The 2006 pageant averaged 3.1 million viewers (the best ever for CMT), and this year's show dipped to 2.4 million. The last Miss America to air on ABC, in 2004, drew better than 9 million people.