NEW YORK – Fox's "The Next Great Champ" (search) isn't TKO'd, but the boxing series has been sent down a weight class.
After just four episodes, Fox has moved the prime-time reality show about 12 amateur boxers competing for a contract with Oscar De La Hoya's (search) promotional company to the sports cable network Fox Sports Net.
"The Next Great Champ" had received disappointing ratings, with a season premiere of only 5 million viewers. It drew 4.4 million viewers last week.
"Unfortunately, despite its core audience, the underlying boxing theme of the series has proved too narrow for us," Gail Berman, president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, said in a statement. "In the end, it belongs on an outlet better suited to serve the boxing fan."
The boxing series had been the subject of a considerable slugfest between NBC and Fox. Before the fall season began, NBC and producers Mark Burnett (search) and DreamWorks SKG accused Fox of stealing their idea for their boxing reality series, "The Contender," (search) which had been announced earlier but wasn't scheduled to air until November.
Burnett and DreamWorks unsuccessfully sought an injunction to keep the Fox show off the air, claiming "The Next Great Champ" violated rules set up for boxing matches by the California Athletic Commission.
On Tuesday, NBC announced it was moving the premiere of "The Contender" to January. Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, said the repositioning of the show was to set it "apart from the distractions of the fall."
Boxing hopefuls will battle for $1 million on "The Contender."
"The Next Great Champ" begins airing Sunday on Fox Sports Net. The first four episodes will be reruns, with new episodes beginning Oct. 17.