Looking to ensure its viability as a network, the new schedule relies on a combination of mixed martial-arts fighting, reality shows involving criminal justice and divorce, and movies. The reality shows are new to the News Corp.-owned network, while the International Fight League (IFL) programming and film nights have been part of MNTV's schedule since March, after it started to scale back on the telenovelas and go in different directions.
Its lineup will also include 10 "Access Hollywood"-produced specials focusing on celebrity events dominating the news, and live beach volleyball.
On Mondays, the six-night-a-week, two-hour-a-night network will continue with "IFL Battleground," a two-hour show in the booming mixed martial-arts competition area, the subject of current cover stories in Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazines. The program is then re-aired on Saturdays.
Thursdays and Fridays will continue to have movies, such as the "Rocky" series and "Snatch."
Tuesdays and Wednesdays include the reality gambits. Tuesday starts with "The Academy," which follows recruits training for jobs with the L.A. sheriff's department. That's followed by "Jail," which comes from the producer of "Cops," a mainstay on corporate sibling Fox, and follows prisoners through the booking process into their cells.
On Wednesday, "Divorce Wars" (working title) airs in the first hour, where couples on the brink of a split enter a "Divorce Wars house," where 24-hour surveillance captures their attempts to stay together with counseling and other assistance.
Then," Meet My Folks"--a new version of the series that ran on NBC in 2002-03--follows at 9, where parents decide who gets to date their children. The parents get to grill and challenge the potentials before making a decision.
In addition to the "Access Hollywood"-type specials, live AVP professional beach volleyball events will air on two Saturdays, Sept. 1 and Sept. 8, where they'll replace the IFL re-runs.
Also in development for March 2008 is a takeoff on the Fox show "Temptation Island," which aired from 2001-2003. Called "Paradise Hotel," the series follows a group of singles at a Mexican resort that compete to stay the longest.
News Corp. has a lot riding on the success of MNTV. The network makes up prime-time programming for 10 of its owned-and-operated stations, which have suffered as the network failed to find its footing. MNTV launched in September in the wake of the demise of UPN. Other station groups with an interest in MNTV's success are Sinclair, with a slew of affiliates, and Young Broadcasting, which operates the San Francisco affiliate.
MNTV may struggle to convince advertisers to give it a go this year and others to return after the tough first year when telenovelas scored ratings blips. Clearly, one reason it opted not to hold an upfront event this year after a lively 2006 is the difficulty in unspooling any success story.
The schedule is as follows:
8:00-10:00 p.m. --- "IFL Battleground"
8:00-9:00 p.m. --- "The Academy"
9:00-10:00 p.m. --- "Jail"
8:00-9:00 p.m. --- "Divorce Wars" (working title)
9:00-10:00 p.m. --- "Meet My Folks"
8:00-10:00 p.m. --- "My Thursday Night Movie"
8:00-10:00 p.m. --- "My Friday Night Movie"
8:00-10:00 p.m. --- Encore presentation of "IFL Battleground"
*The AVP "Croc's Cup Championship" and the AVP "Gods & Goddesses of the Beach" will air during this time period on September 1st and September 8th, respectively.