In a scheduling reversal, Spike TV’s Total Nonstop Action pro wrestling series in April will pin down the 11 p.m. time slot on Thursdays, yielding its previously announced 9 p.m. position to Ultimate Fighting Championship content.
Spike is betting the revamped Thursday night lineup, starting April 13 and branded under the “Full Contact Thursdays,” will attract a sizable number of young male viewers to the network, according to Spike TV general manger Kevin Kay.
Spike last month announced that the TNA Impact! wrestling series, which currently airs Saturday nights at 11 p.m., would move to Thursdays at 9 p.m. Spike’s Unleashed series, featuring vintage programming from the mixed martial-arts sport of ultimate fighting, was to air at 10 p.m. That was to be followed by the third season of Spike’s popular reality series Ultimate Fighter, which is moving to Thursdays from its Monday 11 p.m. slot.
But Kay said young-male targeted Ultimate Fighter would likely provide a better lead-in to TNA Impact! than the more female-skewing repeats of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which airs at 8 p.m. Hence, the new lineup will feature CSI at 8 p.m., followed by UFC Unleashed at 9 p.m., Ultimate Fighter at 10 p.m. and TNA Impact! at 11 p.m.
“We looked at it and realized that CSI probably isn’t the best lead in for TNA Impact!,” he said. We know that UFC’s Unleashed performs well as a bridge to Ultimate Fighter, which would provide the maximum lead in for TNA. We really want TNA to succeed.”
As for the branding effort, the network will develop an on-air promotional campaign for “Full Contact Thursdays.” The block will feature an as-yet announced host that will introduce the shows, according to Kay.
He added that Thursdays is a strong viewing night for men and key one for advertisers like video game manufacturers and studios trying to tout their new releases.
“There also isn’t a lot of competition from the broadcast networks for men’s eyeballs on Thursdays,” he said. “We’re going to do marketing behind the block and we’re going to promote the time change of the shows, so we’re confident that the fans will find the UFC and TNA.”
In other Spike news, the network’s new reality series Pros vs. Joes is holding its own against USA Network’s World Wrestling Entertainment programming on Monday nights. The show, which pits viewers against pro athletes in a number of athletic competitions, is averaging a 1.25 household rating over its first two weeks.
“Pros vs. Joes has done amazingly well,” he said.