Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 | 5:25 p.m.
See complete coverage of the 2010 Miss America Pageant.
The 2010 Miss America Pageant ratings on TLC saw a strong increase of 1 million viewers for the live telecast from the Theater for Performing Arts in Planet Hollywood. The pageant, which crowned Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron as the new Miss America on Saturday, beat last year’s major network ratings for archrival Miss USA Pageant that arrives here for its May 16 telecast.
As a result, Miss America Pageant bosses have exclusively confirmed to Vegas DeLuxe that they now want to make its permanent home in Las Vegas. We posted the ratings results ahead of our competition yesterday.
At the end of this month, Miss America officials hope to wrap up negotiations with TLC, Planet Hollywood and the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority so that they can call Las Vegas home for five more years through 2015 -- and even longer!
Miss America Organization Chairman Sam Haskell III commented: “This was our fifth year at Planet Hollywood, and the move to Vegas re-energized us after 84 years in Atlantic City. Television now takes our message to a worldwide audience, and that is the principal part that reinvigorated us. We have been repolishing what became a tarnished brand, and I’m pleased to report the crown is shining bright again since we’ve been in Vegas. We hope to continue for a long time with all our Vegas partners. We love Vegas. The contestants and their families love Vegas. It brings a contemporary excitement to the entire pageant.
“We know that Miss America stands for tradition, and we know that we had to ratchet up its excitement for today’s TV audience. But we were aware we didn’t want to be mean or vicious or overly salacious as we struggled to find the right balance. That’s not what TLC is about anyway. We think the natural tension built through the competition as we put the contestants through their paces. We maintained the tradition and history of 89 years. We recognize there have only been 89 women in history who have held this title, so we will always honor them.”
This was the third TLC broadcast from Las Vegas. The initial broadcast garnered 3 million viewers, the best ratings in three years. Last year, the number jumped to 3.5 million, and it was cable’s most-watched show of the night, placing third just behind Fox and CBS. This year, it jumped another 1 million viewers, and not only became No.1 for the night against all advertiser-supported cable shows excluding movies, but it also was the highest delivery of any Miss America on cable ever.
Moments after the ratings were made available, I talked with Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization. He told me: “These are great numbers. Miss America is growing, and our numbers are growing every year on cable. It’s a good feeling to know you beat your rival and again. Even on cable, we showed that the best pageant out there by far is the Miss America Pageant. I mean being No. 1 on cable and beating the other pageant that was on network television really goes to show you that Miss America is clear to everybody as the one original pageant that everyone still watches and cares about.
“Our new Miss America Caressa is wonderful! She is new and exciting. I think she is going to bring a lot to our program this year. She is the third Miss America that comes from Virginia, and I am going down to the Super Bowl with her. (Caressa flew to Miami today). Our judges picked really well, as they always do. It’s a long process. Rush Limbaugh was talking quite a bit on it on his talk show. It is a very tedious task to go through all 53 contestants, through the interview process and the talent and the swimwear and the evening wear. It takes an entire week. It’s amazing they always get it right. The last thing I would want to be is a judge, because I tell you, with all those young ladies, I have no idea how they figured it out, but they always seem to get it right.”
Art confirmed that the Miss America relationships with Las Vegas and TLC had proven to be very good. He continued: “The ratings just came out, so we are waiting for TLC to make its decision. We obviously feel really good about it, and we have showed them that the numbers are always going to be great with Miss America, so we are hoping that we are going to be renewed by TLC. We absolutely want to stay with them and Las Vegas. The city has been very good to us, Planet Hollywood has been fantastic, and we like that hotel and casino.
“When we left Atlantic City sadly after 85 years, we really were trying to find the best entertainment city in America, and Las Vegas has proven to be that. It is much more highly visible than any other city. There is much more glitz and glamour to Vegas that rewards our pageant a lot more visibility to the American public. The spotlight shines on us much more because we are in Vegas. There is a lot more media that seem to be handling our pageant than if we were in any other city. I mean even in Atlantic City toward the end there, we weren’t getting the media coverage that we expected. Ever since we have been in Vegas, this is our fifth year in Vegas now, we have been getting a tremendous amount of media coverage. So again, Vegas has turned out to be very fruitful for our company.
“I felt so good after this year’s show that I got up, and this was the best show we have ever put on in Las Vegas. Even (host) Mario (Lopez) said it was his best show, too. I felt so good about it, I just sensed that America was going to enjoy it. It was a good, fast-paced moving show, and people who watched it from home said it kept their interest the entire show. Not many viewers changed channels. We kept their interest the whole way. We’re glad we pushed the envelope having the girls pick their own 15th contestant. We had no reservations about that.
“We kept that curveball really quiet, so it went over well. I was watching their faces react, and there were some great facial expressions. For a split second, they didn’t quite understand they were getting the opportunity to pick the 15th contestant. Once they understood, I mean, boom, they were grabbing all those cards from Clinton Kelly and they got it right again, so it was good. It was a lot of fun; I am just so glad that the ratings proved that.
“We absolutely want to keep the reality show program the night before the actual pageant. That has always been part of the problem with the Miss America Pageant over the years. It was all in one night a year, so people didn’t get to know the contestants, as well. So having a reality show or at least a one-hour special the night before gives them a chance to see the contestants a little more. The viewers root for them better and feel more connected.
“It is too early to think about changes for next year, as we are just coming off this year and unpacking right now. But we are so happy, and we seem to have the right keys right now, and I can imagine that we will pretty much keep the same next year.
“TLC as I said has the first option to pick up the show, so we will know by the end of this month about the renewal. Vegas and Planet Hollywood are waiting for us to make the move. We are waiting on TLC to make the first move, and then we will be ready to sign up with Planet Hollywood once again for another couple years. Their offer is on the table for two more years. LVCVA is year to year, but if we’re going to be coming back to Vegas for a few years, which we hope to, I am hoping to develop a longer contract with them, because we really want to make Vegas our home. We sure like it be known that our home is out there in Las Vegas.”
Vegas DeLuxe will keep you posted on the renewals for next year and the future with all those involved at month’s end.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.