Hit Shows Restore Fox's Standing With Advertisers

Fox Broadcasting Co.'s January hits -- "American Idol" and "Joe Millionaire" -- have erased the network's advertising blues. The network no longer owes advertisers free commercial time to make up for the lower-than-promised ratings for shows that aired in the fall, Fox advertising chief Jon Nesvig said Friday.

Nesvig wouldn't disclose the value of the ads the network had to provide free to advertisers. But, he said, "both of these shows have been enormously successful and will allow us to sell additional inventory that we otherwise would have held back to make up for audience deficiencies."

The Jan. 6 premiere of "Joe Millionaire" pulled in nearly 19 million viewers. On Tuesday, "American Idol" opened with nearly 30 million viewers, the biggest audience ever on Fox, excluding Super Bowls and World Series games.

"The success of 'American Idol' could turn the whole network around," said Stacey Lynn Koerner, research director for Initiative Media. "Fox has the best Band-Aid in the business."

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