6:12am PT by James Hibberd
Miss America gets dumped again
TLC is jettisoning the 89-year-old franchise after three years despite strong ratings, which means the beauty pageant will once again have to hustle to find a new network.
"We are happy that TLC was part of the modernization and revitalization of the Miss America pageant," said TLC in a statement. "This year we delivered record ratings, besting any of its prior performances on cable. However, our three-year deal has concluded and we have chosen not to renew. We wish the Miss America Organization well."
Now, on the surface this statement makes little sense. But there's more to it.
TLC picked up Miss America under the network's previous executive administration under president and GM Angela Shapiro-Mathes. Though ratings were strong, given the price of the franchise and the amount of ads sold, sources say Miss America wasn't pulling big enough numbers where it mattered. Plus, the event isn't hugely on brand for TLC.
Miss America aired on NBC from 1966 to 1996, then switched over to ABC. When ABC declined to renew the veteran pageant in 2006, organizers shopped the show to cable networks. CMT picked it up for two years, then dropped it. TLC signed a three-year agreement with pageant organizers in 2008.
Along the way, organizers have entertained all sorts of network requests to try to modernize the show, including adding behind-the-scenes reality-style elements. Now the organization will have to once again try to find a new distribution outlet, which is crucial to the health and future of the organization.
Here's Miss America ratings for the past four years:
4.5 million in 2010
3.54 million in 2009
3.63 million in 2008
2.39 million in 2007 (CMT)