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Fox 2019-20 Schedule Loads Up for Midseason as Network Juggles Scripted and Sports

The new-model Fox network is loading up on 10 new scripted series for the 2019-20 season, most of which will be held for midseason as the network adjusts to its heightened focus on live sports.

Fox’s volume of new scripted series has doubled from the 2018-19 season, a clear statement from the network that it aims to remain a player in traditional primetime comedies and drama. But as promised, the network’s fall and winter lineup is also heavy on live sports, from “Thursday Night Football” to the WWE’s “Smackdown Live” taking over  Fridays.

“We wanted to let the creative community know that Fox is not only open for business but we feel like we’re stronger than ever,” said Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier in outlining the 2019-20 schedule to reporters. Fox is set to formally present its new primetime lineup to advertisers today at New York’s Beacon Theater at 4 p.m. ET.

For the fall, Fox will add two dramas and animated comedy “Bless the Harts.” Fox’s series orders to date feature only one new live action comedy, “Outmatched,” starring Jason Biggs, which is slated for midseason.

The biggest scheduling move in the fall is the slotting of new drama “Not Just Me,” about a scandal involving a fertility doctor, behind season two of this year’s reality sleeper “The Masked Singer” on Wednesday. “Masked Singer” will get a workout next season with a third season bowing behind the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

“Prodigal Son,” which revolves around a criminal psychologist, moves into the Monday 9 p.m. slot behind Fox’s hit procedural “9-1-1.” In its sixth and final season, “Empire” returns to its original Tuesday 9 p.m. stomping grounds, behind season three of medical potboiler “The Resident.”

Thursday through Sunday becomes a football sandwich around the WWE on Fridays, with the NFL on Thursday and Sunday afternoons and college gridiron action on Saturdays.

Fox’s Sunday animation block stays put with the addition of the new family toon “Bless the Harts,” featuring the vocal talents of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, in the 8:30 p.m. hammock slot between “The Simpsons” and “Bob’s Burgers.” Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn said “Harts” has the making of a “signature comedy” for the ntework.

Fox as ever plans to use its prime sports lead-ins to launch important shows as football season winds down. “9-1-1: Lone Star,” which marks Fox’s effort to franchise the “9-1-1” format, will debut Jan. 19 following Fox’s coverage of the NFL’s NFC championship game.

Fox’s midseason drama slate ranges from cop drama “Deputy” to Southern Gothic soap “Filthy Rich” to the AI-centric thriller “neXt.” Also on tap for midseason is the animated domestic comedy “Duncanville” and “The Great North,” another toon from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard.

Collier and other top Fox brass emphasized the strategy of balancing high-profile entertainment shows with must-watch sports that will drive live tune-in. Eric Shanks, CEO of Fox Sports, said WWE should be a boon to Fox as it spurs multi-generational viewing in many households, which is a priority for the network. WWE will air fresh live programming year-round in the Friday slot, which is one reason why Fox was willing to pay nearly $1 billion rights fee to snare the grappler showcase away from USA Network.

“WWE joins our schedule at clearly our strongest part of the year, being about to have (part) of that Thursday through Sunday circulation,” Shanks said. ” ‘Smackdown Live’ is either the No. 1 or No. 2 show in co-viewing. Families watching together means more opportunities to help create circulation for the rest of the week.”

More to come

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