Nigel Lythgoe knows 'So You Think You Can Dance' has to prance

Nigel Lythgoe (WENN.COM file photo)

Nigel Lythgoe (WENN.COM file photo)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Fancy footwork isn't needed to know what the next step has to be, according to Nigel Lythgoe.

With So You Think You Can Dance back for its 11th season, Wednesday, May 28 on Fox and CTV, Lythgoe - an executive producer, co-creator and judge - knows these are uncertain days both for TV networks generally and reality-competition series specifically.

“It’s desperate times almost for all of the broadcasters with the web coming so strongly through and the cable guys coming through,” said Lythgoe, who returns alongside fellow judge Mary Murphy and host Cat Deeley. “It’s tough times all around. So we are just going to have to do really well (in the ratings in the hopes of possibly securing a 12th season).

“Fox has never really said anything about what they hope to achieve with it. But like most shows now, everything that you do is based on your figures of that season, not on past history.”

I would have to think, though, that So You Think You Can Dance is a bit more insulated than the wall-to-wall singing competitions. The X Factor has been axed, and ratings for The Voice and American Idol have plunged. But with So You Think You Can Dance targeting more of a loyal, niche audience, perhaps that makes it less trendy in a way that will benefit it at this point.

“I just think dance in itself, especially how we treat it, we’re not putting celebrities in it,” Lythgoe said. “When it comes to the competition, it isn’t like Dancing with the Stars that you can watch for various reasons. We’re just deeply focused on dance, the different styles, the different genres.

“And we haven’t got anybody saying, 'Pack your suitcase, you’re going home next week.' We’re saying, 'Point your toes, straighten your leg,' which, of course, doesn’t appeal to everybody. So we know what we are, and we’ve always said, 'We’re the little program that could.' ”

To add some star power to the early episodes this season, Justin Bieber will introduce a “dance crews” component to the show, which will be separate from the usual competition. And joining Lythgoe and Murphy as guest judges at various junctures will be Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Atlanta), Billy Porter and Misty Copeland (Philadelphia), Wayne Brady (New Orleans), Jenna Elfman and Fabrice Calmels (Chicago) and Christina Applegate (Los Angeles).

“Putting myself in the executive’s position, I want viewing figures so that I can sell to my advertisers,” Lythgoe acknowledged. “The one thing, and I’ve touched on it before, that we have going for us is we have an undiluted audience. They know exactly who’s watching the show, and they can gear the commercials to that audience and know that they’re reaching them. That, I believe, is our strength.

“But like most shows, we’ve been losing viewers and the viewing figures have been going down. I would certainly like to bolster them up, if not keep them the same as last year.”

You always get a dance with Nigel Lythgoe, but you rarely get a song and dance.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca


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