NBC schedules 'The Contender' for heavyweight showdown with FOX's 'American Idol'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/18/2004
Fresh off this winter's successful strategy of moving producer Mark Burnett's The Apprentice series to Thursdays at 9PM versus television's top-ranked CSI series after Apprentice was pummeled in its originally scheduled Wednesday 8PM time period by FOX's American Idol, NBC and Mark Burnett have announced that they want a rematch -- and this time they'll be bringing another of Burnett's new shows, his much-hyped The Contender series, to the showdown.
NBC introduced its new prime-time schedule for the 2004-05 season yesterday, but its biggest reality programming news announcement had little to do with its fall schedule. In announcing its Tuesday programming lineup, NBC revealed that its popular Average Joe series would be moving to Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT for this fall's fourth installment of the show, but the network's bigger reality news was that The Contender, the heavily-hyped boxing series that it announced in February, will premiere as a midseason series in the Tuesday 9PM time period following the conclusion of next fall's Average Joe 4.
Perhaps sensing that in light of this season's controversial voting decisions, the public's appetite for the FOX reality hit might be waning -- or perhaps just emboldened by its Apprentice success -- NBC is speaking much more boastfully for now. "Mark is fully on board and is incredibly excited about the schedule," NBC President Jeff Zucker told the audience attending the schedule announcement at Radio City Music Hall. "With regards to American Idol, we're not gonna roll over as we have the past two years. We think that in The Contender, we have the next great unscripted drama."