The network did not have a significant market share until the early 1990s when News Corp. bought more TV station groups, e.g. New World Communications, Chris-Craft Industries, BHC Communications and United Television, making it the largest owner of television stations in the United States. Fox became a major competitor to the "big three" broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) in 1994 after it outbid longtime rights owner CBS to broadcast National Conference games of the National Football League. The rights gave Fox many new viewers (and affiliates) and a platform for advertising its other shows. Fox later acquired rights to broadcast games of the National Hockey League (in 1995), Major League Baseball (in 1996), and NASCAR auto races (in 2000).
The Fox network is home to the longest-running sitcom and animated series in American television history, The Simpsons. It is also credited with launching the careers of such Hollywood stars as Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and Ashton Kutcher.
It was estimated in 2003 that FOX is viewable by 96.18% of all US households, reaching 102,565,710 houses in the United States. FOX has 180 VHF and UHF owned-and-operated or affiliate stations in the U.S. and U.S. possessions.
The Super Bowl is not an annual Fox property, of course, but the network needs it especially now, because of the pit it dug for itself in the past four months.
The network has lost about 8 percent of its viewers from a year ago (8.5 million, down from 9.2 million), but Fox, like NBC and ABC, cares most about viewers between ages 18 and 49 because advertisers pay a premium to reach that group.
Beyond "Idol" and football, Fox is also counting on a strong comeback for "24," the much-admired drama, which returns Sunday and Monday with the first four of 24 hours of original episodes, as well as new episodes of "The Simple Life," featuring Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie taking on various jobs as interns.
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