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ABC will hit rivals with ‘Million’-athon

8-day marathon to chalenge 'Twenty-One,' 'Lines,' 'Greed'

The second week in January could get ugly for the gameshow latecomers.

ABC will try to preempt efforts by NBC, CBS and Fox to join the quizzer fray by launching the series version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” with an eight-day marathon beginning Sunday, Jan. 9.

“Millionaire” was initially scheduled to premiere Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. and then continue only in its normal timeslots: Sundays at 9 p.m., Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m.

But the Alphabet net announced Monday it would move back the gamer’s start date to Jan. 9, and then also air one-time only hourlong episodes on Monday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 14 at 9 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m.

That means “Millionaire” will go head to head with the second episode of NBC’s “Twenty-One” on Jan. 12 and the second episode of CBS’ “Winning Lines” on Jan. 15. “Millionaire” will also go directly against the second week of Fox’s returning entry, “Greed,” on Jan. 14.

With ABC’s “Millionaire” announcement, the Big 4 nets will air an unprecedented 14 hours of gameshows between Jan. 5 and Jan. 15 — unheard of since the days when TV broadcasted in black and white and the networks grabbed over 90% of the viewing audience.

Meanwhile, ABC also decided that, contrary to an earlier announcement, “Sports Night” will remain in its current post-“Dharma & Greg” timeslot, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.

“Spin City,” which was bumped from 8 p.m. on Tuesdays to make way for “Millionaire,” will settle behind “Drew Carey” on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 12. “Norm” will return to Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., where it began the season.

“Spin City” had originally been slated to move into the slot behind “Dharma.”

In other Alphabet web scheduling news, it appears ABC will win the race to get a Muhammad Ali biopic on the air first.

“Muhammad Ali: King of the World” will air Monday, Jan. 10, at 9 p.m. Fox’s “Ali: The Greatest of All Time,” originally slated for a February airdate, will likely be pushed back to later in the year.

ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Stu Bloomberg said the web’s revised “Millionaire” launch “just makes sense.”

“This move not only jump-starts ‘Millionaire’s’ return, it also allows us a great promotional platform for our Muhammad Ali movie and the upcoming February Sweep,” Bloomberg said.

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