NBC announced Tuesday, June 30 that it will replace the Miss USA 2015 pageant on July 12 with a new three-hour “American Ninja Warrior” special titled “USA Vs. The World.,” Adweek reports. The news comes a day after the network announced that it would cut ties with Donald Trump by no longer broadcasting his annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.
NBC severed ties with the “Apprentice” star following controversial remarks he made about Mexican immigrants during his June 16 presidential campaign announcement, where he called them rapists and said that they bring drugs and crime to the U.S. The comments have spurred outrage in Mexico and throughout much of Latin America and the U.S.’s Hispanic community, resulting in Spanish-language network Univision first dropping the pagaents, as well as Mexican media company Televisa. NBC News reports that Mexico has also decided not to send a contestant to the Miss Universe contest next January, and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has scrapped a project in development with Trump for his Ora TV.
The Miss USA pageant is still scheduled to go on as planned in Louisiana even though it is currently without a network. CBS, which aired the pageant for nearly 40 years, has indicated that it has no plans to air Miss USA, which is also without a host after MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts and “Dancing With the Stars” pro Cheryl Burke both quit as co-host, Entertainment Weekly reports. Burke currently stars in NBC’s “I Can Do That,” and it would have been her first time hosting the pageant. Their departures follow actors Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, who were scheduled to co-host Univision’s first-ever Spanish simulcast, but both dropped out last week.
The decision by NBC to drop the pageants may actually be a smart move from a ratings perspective. “American Ninja Warrior” not only continues to be a solid ratings performer for the network airing on Monday nights throughout the summer, but the same special last year outdrew the Miss USA pageant in the all-important, advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic while attracting a slightly smaller audience, drawing a 1.8 rating and 5.2 million viewers compared to the beauty contest’s 1.4 rating and 5.5 million viewers. Viewership for the Miss Universe pageant has also dropped in recent years.
NBC may have dropped the pageants, but the network has confirmed that it will continue to produce new seasons of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” which is owned by producer Mark Burnett and not Trump. The Republican candidate had already announced he would no longer be a part of the show due to his presidential run. However, he has threatened legal action against NBC over the pageants, citing a breach of contract and calling the network “weak” and “foolish” for objecting to his comments on immigration. He has already filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision, which the channel has called “factually false and legally ridiculous.”