U.S. broadcaster Fox, accused by other television networks of copycatting their reality-TV ideas, Monday set an early-September launch for its boxing series “The Next Great Champ,” beating rival NBC to air by two months.
“Champ,” executive-produced by Oscar De La Hoya, will premiere on Sept. 10. The series will follow 12 fighters as they train and compete for a contract with De La Hoya’s promotional company and a title fight under the auspices of the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Fox announced “Champ” after NBC took the wraps off its own boxing show, “The Contender,” which will feature boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and counts “Rocky” star Sylvester Stallone among its executive producers. It is set for a November launch.
(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)
NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker, in a presentation to TV critics in July, lambasted Fox for purportedly copying “The Contender” and other NBC shows.
“Quite frankly, they used to be innovators and now they’re imitators,” Zucker said.
But during that same critics’ tour, days later, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said her network tried to buy the show that became “The Contender” and, when unsuccessful, settled on another version.
“I think it’s important that you know there were five other boxing shows pitched around town,” Berman told the critics.