Fox is readying a programming strategy that it hopes will remake the Saturday night broadcast landscape, B&C reports. The network is counting on sports to pump new ratings life into the night.
Fox will air more than 100 hours of live prime-time sports programming, covering 28 Saturday nights over a period of 32 weeks, starting April 14 and running through Dec. 8.
The Saturday sports package has been in the works for more than a year, the report notes, with the network keeping busy lining up the necessary broadcast rights and hammering out schedules.
Said Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports: "This is a collaborative effort between Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment. We decided to do it because the opportunity was there. Ratings continue to go down on Saturday nights, and we thought we should take a swing at programming the night with sports each week."
The article reports: “The new Saturday night lineup will include live NASCAR races, Major League Baseball games, Pac-12 college football and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts. As part of its MLB Saturday night schedule, Fox will introduce a new half-hour studio show and will title the night ‘Baseball Night in America.’"
The programming move launches with two NASCAR events, then a live UFC lineup on May 5. Next up is another NASCAR race, followed by eight MLB games on consecutive Saturdays concluding July 7. The following week Fox airs the MLB All-Star Game midweek (July 10).
The story adds: “Another UFC night will air Aug. 4, and after a four-week hiatus, Pac-12 football comes on board for 12 Saturday night telecasts, interrupted one Saturday night, Oct. 27, for a World Series game. Fox will also televise the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1 and another UFC event on Dec. 8.”