What Does FOX's Future Look Like?

Number four out of five in this series, today I'm looking at the future of FOX. The big questions to answer in this article are: How will FOX do in the 2016-17 season? Which shows are likely to return in 2017-18? How might the network do when its older shows come to an end?

The Simpsons and Family Guy aren't the hits they used to be, getting decent ratings in the spring, but nothing great. However, they still hold up the Sunday comedy block when football isn't boosting the night, and that will likely stay the same unless Son of Zorn or Making History turn out to be powerhouses. Bob's Burgers and The Last Man on Earth also air on Sunday night, delivering acceptable ratings. On Tuesday night, New Girl could again hold up surprisingly well like it did last season, while I don't have very high expectations for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, especially since this season it will have to air at 8:00 and it will be on an otherwise female-aimed night. New comedy The Mick is also set to air on this night in 2017, which may be the network's attempt to head back into the dysfunctional family sitcoms, but will that work?

There are three comedies sure to be renewed, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Last Man on Earth, and fellow Sunday comedy Bob's Burgers has already been renewed. The Simpsons and Family Guy have both aired on FOX for a long time, and aren't at the level that FOX would get rid of them, while The Last Man on Earth gets acceptable ratings, is FOX-owned, and critics love it. New Girl isn't a lock for renewal, many thought that season 5 would be its last, but it held up surprisingly well. New Girl could end after this season if it doesn't hold up well, new comedies do well enough that the network decides they don't need it, or if the show decides six seasons is enough. However, it could continue if it has another small drop between seasons and FOX doesn't really have anything to replace it with. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is lower rated however, and with it completing its fourth full season, the network could very well decide they're done with the show. The only other option I see is that they decide since they've stuck with the show for four years, they'll give it a final season.

The network's two long-running animated comedies don't show any signs of ending, so the network doesn't need to worry about finding replacements for them. But if the network hopes to continue comedy on Tuesday, or really just any night that isn't Sunday, they need a New Girl replacement. The other group-of-friends types of shows FOX has tried recently haven't worked, with Weird Loners and Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life completely flopping. Maybe viewers want something else, and we will see this winter and spring if they want dysfunctional families with The Mick premiering. FOX currently has a problem with figuring out what its viewers want in comedy, with only Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth around from all of the comedies they have premiered since 2012.

FOX was very fortunate in early 2015 when Empire premiered big, and then grew from there. Of course, it has declined now since its season two premiere, but the show still gets huge ratings. Lethal Weapon will likely benefit from that as Rosewood did. Meanwhile on Monday, Gotham and Lucifer will likely continue to get decent ratings, as they did this spring while paired together. Thursday, however, doesn't look as strong, with Rosewood likely to be a huge flop at 8:00 and who knows how Pitch will do, but it's definitely incompatible with Rosewood. Also, let's not forget Scream Queens, which gets seemingly acceptable but nothing great, or even good, And new series The Exorcist will air on Fridays, and the reviews so far aren't pointing to success. This is FOX's drama slate, plus the fourth season of low-rated Sleepy Hollow and final season of long-running Bones at mid-season, along with new shows Star, Shots Fired, A.P.B, and 24: Legacy, plus a revival of Prison Break.

While I expect Empire to be down considerably from season two, it will still be big and still an easy renewal. Monday shows Gotham and Lucifer should also be able to return. Beyond this, it is more difficult to determine. Scream Queens and Sleepy Hollow got renewed this time around, so unless they drop a bit more than league average, they will probably get renewed again, as hard as that is to imagine for Sleepy Hollow. I really don't see how FOX can keep Rosewood around for a third season, because this season it will certainly be exposed for the flop that it is (unless Pitch is a big hit and Rosewood stays there all season, getting the same boost it got last year), but then again Sleepy Hollow got renewed for a fourth season despite terrible ratings, so who knows. For the new shows, I don't see Lethal Weapon or The Exorcist doing well, and I don't expect A.P.B. to either, so that leaves Pitch, Star, Shots Fried, and 24: Legacy to potentially do well, and it's really hard to say which ones will.

While FOX has many problems, finding replacements for old dramas isn't one of them. Bpnes is ending, but the network doesn't really need it anyway. Empire and Gotham are young, but the only other drama older than them is now-flop Sleepy Hollow. The network struggles off of Wednesday and Sunday on football nights, but they don't have aging veterans that need replacing like ABC and CBS do.

Taking a quick look at unscripted, FOX has reliable Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef Junior. They are also trying new Kicking & Screaming at midseason, but I think that will go the way of their recent summer unscripted attempts, which is to say, not well at all. Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef Junior, however, are solid schedule fillers however, which helps the network often on Friday nights or when flops occur.

FOX's future doesn't really look too much worse than its present, which is really disappointing for the network considering the state it's currently in. The one thing it needs to do somehow is figure out how to keep its shows from having big drops each season.

What do you think FOX's future looks like? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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