WE Eyes Miss America

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In the past, it was unthinkable that an event like the Miss America pageant would appear on ratings-challenged WE: Women’s Entertainment.

Yet sources close to WE said the Rainbow Media Holdings LLC network, under the tutelage of general manger Kim Martin, is at least a finalist in negotiations to secure rights to the 84-year-old September event, which has fallen on hard times and is in search of a TV home.

Although it has declined in popularity over the years and it has conceded that it needs some jazzing up to stand up against American Idol and other reality-TV shows, the Atlantic City, N.J.-based pageant could be a breakthrough event for WE, a network in turnaround that’s had some recent success, although it still trails category leaders Lifetime Television and Oxygen in the ratings.

WE officials would not comment on its pursuit of Miss America, which has been available since ABC dropped the show last year. Neither would the William Morris Agency officials shopping the show.

But sources described 55 million-subscriber WE as pitching hard and still in the running, adding that a deal either way could be announced soon.

At its nadir, last year on ABC, the pageant drew 9.8 million viewers, about 70 times WE’s average viewership (137,000).

For more on WE and the Miss America pageant, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page one of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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