Three years after NBC and Fox battled to beat each other to the airwaves with competing reality boxing shows, the networks are at it again -- this time with karaoke-like reality game shows.

Yesterday, Fox announced that it will premiere Don't Forget the Lyrics!, a new Wayne Brady-hosted game show that will feature contestants trying to correctly complete the verses of different songs for the chance to win big bucks, with a special two-night debut on Wednesday, July 11 at 9:30PM ET/PT and Thursday, July 12 at 8:30PM ET/PT. 

Hours later, NBC aired a commercial (broadcast during Wednesday evening's Last Comic Standing episode) announcing that The Singing Bee -- a new similar-sounding reality game show the network had previously announced would air as part of its 2007-2008 primetime programming schedule -- will now suddenly debut on Tuesday, July 10, one day before Fox's Lyrics.

As noted, this isn't the first time NBC and Fox -- which also created first-to-air Trading Spouses and Nanny 911 knockoffs of ABC's Wife Swap and Supernanny programs in 2004 -- have raced to premiere shows with similar formats. 

In July 2004, NBC announced plans to move the debut of The Contender, a new Mark Burnett-created reality boxing show it had ordered earlier that year, from midseason to November -- the exact same month that Fox was planning to debut The Next Great Champ, The Contender knockoff that Fox had ordered after losing a bidding war for Burnett's series.  Fox countered NBC's move by moving its Champ knockoff even further up, to a September 2004 debut. 

Since Burnett's show -- at the time, the most expensive new reality show ever produced -- couldn't be ready in time for a September premiere, The Next Great Champ ended up beating The Contender to the airwaves.  However the Fox show tanked in the ratings and was quickly pulled off the air and dumped on the media conglomerate's Fox Sports Net network of regional cable sports channels. 

Meanwhile The Contender -- which ended up being an expensive ratings flop that is believed to have lost NBC millions of dollars but was still considered a "big success" by Burnett, who is believed to have made millions more via an equity stake in Everlast, a then-struggling boxing equipment maker that was one of the show's product placement sponsors -- eventually premiered in February 2005 but lasted only one season on NBC before moving on to ESPN.

Each half-hour episode of Don't Forget the Lyrics! will feature different contestants who choose songs from a variety of genres, time periods and artists before taking the stage in-front of a studio audience.  The studio's band will start to play, the song's lyrics will appear on a screen and then suddenly the music will cease and the words will disappear, leaving the contestant all by their lonesome in filling in the correct missing lyric.

Following each correct response given by the contestant, he or she must decide to "Stay & Play" or "Take the Money & Run."  If the contestant decides to stay and is correctly able to fill-in the missing lyrics nine times, they'll be presented with a No. 1 hit and one final missing lyric for the top prize of $1 million.

Just how similar is Fox's Don't Forget the Lyrics! to The Singing Bee?  In each episode of the NBC show, contestants must be completely perfect when singing the lyrics to popular songs -- even once the band stops playing accompanying music -- for the chance to win cash prizes. 

While the producers of NBC's The Contender sued Fox and The Next Great Champ producers Endemol USA and Lock & Key Productions in August 2004 to block the copycat show from airing before theirs, a California trial court ruled that The Contender producers' efforts violated the First Amendment.  It remains to be seen if another legal battle is brewing over The Singing Bee and Don't Forget the Lyrics!.

Don't Forget the Lyrics! is being produced by RDF USA and Brad Lachman Productions, with Lachman, Jeff Apploff, Chris Coelen and Greg Goldman serving as executive producers and Brian Veskosky serving as co-executive producer. Apploff is credited with creating the show.