HBO or ESPN could pick up The Contender; Burnett says he wants more than “a TV deal.”

Although Mark Burnett previously said that he expected to be announcing a new home for The Contender a few weeks ago, he says it’s taking a while because producers “are looking not just for a TV partner, but for a partner overall to help really re-launch the sport. This relationship will be as much about the overall opportunity of rebuilding boxing as it will be about a TV show. If we just wanted a TV deal, we’d be done already,” he tells Broadcasting and Cable.

So where might the show end up. ESPN has been rumored, and according to B&C, “industry insiders say ESPN or HBO would be the most likely new venue, though Spike TV, FX and even Fox (which decided last season’s The Next Great Champ was a chump) would also qualify as a prospective partner.”

And the show could return as early as next January. “Burnett says he expects, within weeks, to announce ‘big fight night’ televised events that would be a prelude to the series’ return, possibly by January 2006,” B&C says.

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