Fox to push animation on Saturdays

Fox has announced plans to air a late night Saturday block of animation, complementing its Animation Domination slate of Sunday cartoons which includes The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Kevin Reilly, head of Fox Broadcasting Company’s entertainment division, made the announcement on Sunday as part of a larger unveiling of a new unit at Fox that will develop original, alternative programming. It will be led by former Adult Swim development head Nick Weidenfeld, who spearheaded such cult animated series as Metalocalypse and Superjail!

Though Reilly claims he is not competing against NBC’s Saturday Night Live, he believes the proposed 11pm to 12:30am block, which will begin running in January next year, could attract a sizable young male audience. It will be no easy task, as SNL is king of Saturday night ratings, despite waxing and waning in notoriety over its 37-season run. Fox has gone head-to-head with the sketch comedy institution before. It aired its own skit show MADtv from 1995 to 2009. MADtv produced memorable characters like Ms. Swan, a catchphrase-spewing Asian woman played by current Family Guy cast member Alex Borstein, but the show was almost always overshadowed by its NBC counterpart.

There is no word yet on what new series will occupy the animation block. Reilly said some cartoons will air in 11-minute slots, similar to how Adult Swim schedules its programs.

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