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Fox cancels 'Next Great Champ's return, dumps the boxing reality show on Fox Sports Net

By Reality TV World staff, 10/05/2004 

Fox has KO'd its own The Next Great Champ reality boxing series, announcing that despite its previous announcement, the low rated series will not be returning to the airwaves after a short two-week hiatus. Instead, the network has cancelled all future broadcasts of the series, with the remaining six episodes of the ten episode series now scheduled for broadcast on the media conglomerate's Fox Sports Net network of regional cable sports channels.

"The Next Great Champ is a compelling, well-produced series. Unfortunately, despite its loyal core audience, the underlying boxing theme of the series has proved too narrow for us," Gail Berman, Fox entertainment president, said in a statement. "In the end, it belongs on an outlet better suited to serve the boxing fan, and it's great that we can keep it in the family on FSN."

Despite being the center of significant pre-premiere publicity due to idea theft allegations that ultimately resulted in the filing of two lawsuits, The Next Great Champ has struggling mightily in the ratings since its September 7 premiere.

Rushed into production after Fox lost the bidding for Survivor and The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett's upcoming The Contender reality boxing series, Champ's early September debut was the result of a series of dueling scheduling changes that included Burnett's last-minute legal efforts to force the network to delay Champ's airing until his NBC Contender series was also ready for broadcast.

With Champ now having cratered in the ratings, NBC is believed to have tentatively rescheduled The Contender, which it had pushed into an aggressive November debut in a failed effort to match the Fox series blow for blow, back to its originally planned January 2005 premiere date (a timeframe that was originally selected due to NBC's plans to use Contender to take on the next edition of American Idol, the season-saving series that has rescued Fox from disastrous fall season ratings performances during each of the past two years.)

"We are proud of the production quality and storytelling of The Next Great Champ," said David Goldberg, president of Endemol USA, the show's producers. "We are disappointed the program did not rate as well as we had hoped, but we are grateful for having a second shot on FSN where it will attract an audience that truly appreciates boxing."

The Next Great Champ will begin broadcasting on each of FSN's twenty regional networks on Sunday, October 10 at 5PM local time with a special four hour marathon of the program's first four previously aired episodes. Starting the following week, Sunday October 17, the six remaining episodes of the series will being airing weekly at 6PM local time, with repeats also airing Sundays at midnight and Mondays at 9PM local time. The broadcast of the program's tenth and final episode, which was reported to have been included the filming of bogus final bouts intended to prevent the discovery of the show's winner, has yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

"FSN welcomes The Next Great Champ with open arms," said George Greenberg, FSN Executive Vice President, Programming & Production. "FSN has done well with Sunday Night Fights, and the recent Best Damn Sports Show Period special that featured a live primetime heavyweight bout was the show's highest-rated program ever. We plan to promote the series heavily on FSN, and expect it to do very well for us."

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