Are TV Fans Sick of the Osbournes?
NEW YORK (AP) √≥ There’s some bleepin’ bad news for the Osbourne family: Television viewers may be getting sick of them.
Ratings for MTV’s hit reality sitcom have been tumbling in its second season, from a high of 6.6 million viewers for its Nov. 26 premiere, to 3.5 million on Jan. 14. This week’s episode climbed back to 3.8 million.
Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack Osbourne were also hosts of last week’s American Music Awards, which suffered its worst ratings ever.
Less than a year after “The Osbournes” began airing and the family became ubiquitous, are the Osbournes burning out?
“The people came in, they tried it and they just haven’t gotten back on it,” Harry Keeshan, senior vice president of broadcasting for the ad buying firm PHD, said on Thursday. “I don’t think a lot of these people will return.”
The show’s tone is different this second season because the family’s life is different. Instead of showing the eccentric home life of a marginal celebrity and his family, the latest episodes depict them coping with sudden fame, as well as Sharon’s bout with cancer.
Brian Graden, chief programming executive at MTV, said he’s not worried about the numbers. The first season started slow and built into a phenomenon while the second season started fast and faded, roughly even in viewers.
“The same number of eyeballs are seeing this season on both a premiere and repeat basis,” Graden said. “If you’re in my shoes, you’re not complaining.”
Although the show may not be as popular as it was last spring, MTV says it’s still doing well among the 12-to-34-year-old viewership. Executives also privately say MTV’s business model relies on quick sensations that burn out fast.
Keeshan also points out that his clients that bought advertising time on “The Osbournes” are still happy.
After the current 10-episode season ends, another set of shows are planned for this summer. After that, who knows?
MTV may be ready to move on to something new. Graden is touting a new series about life makeovers, “Made,” that premiered strongly last week.
The Osbournes’ heavily bleeped host stint on the American Music Awards was not only unpopular with viewers, it reportedly caused one celebrity, “Everybody Loves Raymond” actress Patricia Heaton, to walk out of the theater in disgust.
Don’t blame the family for its ratings, suggested Jim Paratore, head of Telepictures Productions.
“The American Music Awards’ problems are more indicative of where music is today than who the host of the show is,” he said.
Paratore has reasons to hope that’s true. Telepictures has signed Sharon Osbourne to be host of a new syndicated talk show set to premiere in the fall. He doubts viewers will be tired of her by the time the talk show premieres.
Telepictures’ research shows that viewers feel warmly toward Sharon and appreciates what she’s been through with a tumultuous marriage and substance abuse, he said.
“She has lived just about every topic that these shows cover,” he said.
Stations representing about two-thirds of the country’s population have agreed to air her talk show starting this fall, he said. By comparison, a new talk show by Ellen DeGeneres, also created by Telepictures, already has 78 percent clearance.