‘Contender’ k.o.’d?

Net swings for long reach from rival skein

Could NBC be ready to delay November’s planned debut of “The Contender”?

With Fox’s “The Next Great Champ” tanking in the Nielsens, industry insiders last week were speculating that NBC might want to keep its boxing skein off the air until January or later. In addition to distancing the Peacock from Fox’s show, such a move would allow NBC time to mount an “Apprentice”-style marketing campaign geared toward a January bow.

What’s more, NBC may want to focus its promo energies on newcomers like “Medical Investigation,” which faded somewhat in its third airing Friday. It also seems likely NBC will launch the psychic drama “Medium” by year’s end; early buzz on the skein is positive.

On the other hand, with “Hawaii” faring poorly Wednesdays at 8 (and “Last Comic Standing” so-so on Tuesdays at 8), NBC might not have the luxury of holding off the debut of new shows. It’s unclear if any of NBC’s top-secret reality skeins (or “Average Joe 4” or “The Biggest Loser”) will be ready for November premieres.

Peacock execs couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday, making talk of a sked shift pure speculation.

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