Adding a sports flavor to the reality-programming trend, Fox Sports Net will distribute two new documentary and reality series that explore athletes' lives away from the game.
On Feb. 5, FSN will debut Preps, a daily series that depicts the lives of three Chicago-area basketball stars. The program takes an inside look at three highly touted high-school players-Eddy Curry, Sean Dockery and Kyle Kleckner.
Fox Sports Net vice president of programming Frank Sinton said the athletes' on- and off-court experiences-and the stories of their families, teammates, coaches and rivals-will be told in a format that combines MTV: Music Television's Real World with the successful 1994 basketball documentary Hoop Dreams.
Unlike more well-known reality series that tape months in advance, such as Survivor, each episode will have a lead time of roughly two weeks, Sinton said.
The half-hour episodes of Preps air on FSN affiliates Monday through Friday at 5 p.m. local time.
"Most reality shows have the luxury of the story being completed before they air. Preps will tell the story while it happens," Sinton said. "The immediacy of showing what happens in these kids' lives as close as possible to when it actually happens is a risk, but will make Preps a truly unique television experience."
The three players are highly regarded and have a number of options once they graduate. Curry, a 6-foot-11, 320-pound senior at Thornwood High School in South Holland, Ill., is the top-ranked high-school player in the nation and could be a top-three National Basketball Association draft choice, if he decides to skip college.
Dockery, from Julian High School on Chicago's South Side, is the top-rated junior point guard in the U.S. and is being recruited by every major U.S. college. Kleckner, a three-sport athlete, is a senior from Downer's Grove North High School in the Chicago suburbs.
Prepsis the second reality/documentary series FSN has launched this year. Last month, the network bowed Beyond the Glory, a series which features in-depth looks at the off-the-field lives of some of today's most notable athletes.
"We tell the story from the athlete's perspective and through people in their lives," Sinton said.
Glory is already off to a strong ratings start. The Jan. 7 premiere, which featured multisport athlete Deion Sanders, generated a 1.19 national Nielsen Media Research rating-the highest premiere number for any show on the network, Sinton said.
"We had the luxury of great promotion and use of the Fox NFL [National Football League] playoffs as a platform, as well as great marketing and promotion throughout the regional sports networks," Sinton said. "The show improved the time period by 200 percent."
FSN has already commissioned 26 episodes of the series, which will help anchor the network's Sunday-night lineup. Glory will air Sundays at 8 p.m., right after FSN's weekly boxing series and before its NASCAR Prime Time
auto racing wrap up.