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Fox KOs Champ; Throws Series to FSN

10/06/2004 3:24 AM Eastern

Fox Broadcasting Co.’s boxing-reality series, The Next Great Champ, turned out to be more a pretender than contender in terms of ratings, and it will have its remaining episodes air on FSN.

The cable network expects to retool the series’ four remaining episodes to in an effort to make it more appealing to boxing fans, according to FSN executive vice president of programming and production George Greenberg.

Four new episodes of the Oscar de la Hoya-promoted series -- which pitted 12 unknown boxers against each other for a chance to fight for a pro-boxing championship -- will air on FSN’s owned-and-affiliated regional sports networks on consecutive Sundays beginning Oct. 17.

The reality series failed to garner a significant audience through its first four episodes, often finishing last in its Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot on its way to averaging a 3.1 household rating through its first four episodes.

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,” Fox president of entertainment Gail Berman said in a prepared 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,” she added.

Greenberg also said the more niche-oriented nature of boxing and sports in general is more suited to FSN’s young, male-oriented demographic than the broader audience broadcast networks covet.

“It’s the logical destination for a show about boxing,” he said “FSN understands its audience and knows who that demographic base is, and [the series has] a very good chance of succeeding at FSN versus entertainment competition.”

Greenberg said Fox will alter the show to emphasize the boxing action in an effort to appeal to more sports fans. FSN will follow each episode with a boxing-themed episode of its Beyond the Glory sports-anthology series.

September