Recently installed MyNetworkTV President Greg Meidel Thursday unveiled a new spring schedule starting March 8, which includes a new fight league series, the only regularly scheduled movies on network television and reducing telenovela nights from six to two.
MNT is also blowing out its Saturday night telenovela recaps immediately, installing movies in the slot until March when the International Fight League’s Total Impact debuts. The league will also appear on cable via Fox Sports Network, but it will be slotted outside of MNT’s 8-10 p.m. Eastern window.
The netlet is hoping to turn the new mixed martial arts team competition league, in which its owner News Corp. has a stake, into a significant Monday Night Football-type franchise. The league will develop and market the program, while MNT will control the ad inventory.
“We knew we had to move quick,” says Meidel, who was named to the newly created post on Jan. 22. “There will be two nights for men, two for women and two for couples.”
More dramatic schedule changes could come in the fall, with MNT talking to major reality producers and sister Fox divisions about developing new fare as Meidel seeks out new ways to raise ratings and revenues.
The move away from the all-telenovela strategy this spring will allow MNT to showcase its two newest telenovela-inspired dramas, American Heiress and Saints & Sinners, over two nights with back-to-back episodes of each.
Meidel is looking to enhance the value of the serialized shows by playing them like two-hour movies once a week rather than over five nights, which had been a longstanding issue in terms of retaining viewer interest. It erases the need for Saturday night recap episodes.
MNT will schedule theatrical movies on Thursday and Friday nights beginning March 8 and 9 with The Rundown” and Rocky IV. The Thursday night theatrical airings will allow MNT to take advantage of the huge ad dollars that come on that night from film studios looking to plug their weekend releases, according to Meidel.
The MNT movies will open up a new outlet for Hollywood studios with movie packages to sell. “We’re talking to everybody in town,” Meidel says.
Specials are also in the mix, with MNT slating The World Music Awards on Saturday, March 10.
Here is the spring schedule (all times are Eastern):
8-10 p.m. --- International Fight League’s Total Impact
8-10 p.m. --- American Heiress
8-10 p.m. --- Saints & Sinners
8-10 p.m. --- My Thursday Night Movie
8-10 p.m. --- My Friday Night Movie
8-10 p.m. --- Encore presentation of International Fight League’s Total Impact