The news that Howard Stern has been hired by NBC as a judge for the America’s Got Talent has already been met with very mixed feelings from fans. Will the notoriously bawdy shock jock make the family-friendly reality competition decidedly not so anymore? Or will Stern be just what the show needed, in terms of having a judge you hate/love to love/hate, with the departure of Piers Morgan?
But, perhaps the most intriguing question out of all this — and the one that NBC undoubtedly hoped people would be asking — is: Will this make TV viewers who have never tuned in to America’s Got Talent before actually feel compelled to watch? And not just the controversial radio personality’s devoted fans who will follow him from Sirius XM and beyond. (Though how much they’ll want to watch a subdued Stern raises another question entirely.) I’m also talking about those who don’t particularly care for Stern or America’s Got Talent: the curiosity seekers.
It’s a big risk for NBC. In the bluntly titled article “Why Howard Stern is a Terrible Choice for NBC,” Forbes.com argues that Stern could be costly to NBC, both financially (“NBC will have to pay Stern $15 million for his services and that the network will spend an additional $10 million to move the show to New York”) and in the ratings (in a Marketing Evaluations poll regarding people’s attitudes towards certain celebrities, Stern earned more negative scores).
Of course, if NBC’s gamble does pay off, Stern could turn out to be one of the best reality-TV judges on television. Look no further than Simon Cowell, the prime example of someone who is both disliked for his brashness and a beloved as a staple on reality TV. Then again, Stern could wind up burning bridges with both his fans and America’s Got Talent fans. In the end, it really could be up to the outsiders who decide. So tell us, PopWatchers…