October 11, 2004

Article at Reuters

Fox moves 'Champ' from center ring

“The Next Great Champ” had to fight in court just to get on the air, but the boxing reality series couldn’t survive a battering in the ratings.

Fox confirmed late Monday that the show — which debuted in fourth place in its time slot last month — will move from the broadcast network to Fox Sports Net, where it will stay in the ring through mid-November.

“Despite its loyal core audience, the underlying boxing theme of the series has proved too narrow for us,” Fox entertainment president Gail Berman said in a statement. “In the end, it belongs on an outlet better suited to serve the boxing fan.”

Fox unveiled “The Next Great Champ” to fanfare, but the show drew legal fire from DreamWorks and Mark Burnett Prods., producers of “The Contender,” a similar boxing-themed series set to debut later this season on NBC.

DreamWorks sought a legal injunction against Fox to block the premiere of “Champ,” but a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied the request.

FSN plans to launch “Champ” on Sunday with a marathon of its first four episodes. Then the unaired five episodes of the show will air at 6 p.m. local time from Oct. 17-Nov. 14, with repeats at midnight Sunday and 9 p.m. Monday. It hasn’t been determined when the finale will air.

FSN has a long history with boxing, including a recent record-breaking “Best Damn Sports Show Period” featuring a live boxing match and “Sunday Night Fights.”

“The Next Great Champ” is produced by Endemol USA, with eight-time boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya serving as host and an executive producer.