Nine shifts 'Footy Show' to face off with Ten

In a provocative move that will instantly escalate the ratings stakes on Thursday nights, Channel Nine will shift their veteran sports-comedy franchise The Footy Show to a permanent primetime slot next year.

From the start of the next AFL season, the program fronted by Garry Lyon, Sam Newman and James Brayshaw will air each week at 8.30pm. The move means the show, entering its 19th year on-air, will be pitted against Ten's footy comedy, Before The Game.

Ten moved Before The Game from Saturdays this year.

The Footy Show has aired at 9.30pm since its inception in 1994 and has consistently (and remarkably) won the timeslot. However it regularly runs overtime and can be on air as late as 11.30pm. The network believes the move to 8.30pm is an opportunity to reset the show and broaden its appeal outside its admittedly large rusted-on fan base.

Intriguingly, the alteration in schedule comes as ABC2 announced last week that its much-loved Thursday night footy program The Marngrook Show would not return next year. Industry scuttlebutt suggests SBS may pick up the show next year.

The new Footy Show strategy was announced at Nine's 2013 programming launch in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Aside from previously disseminated announcements regarding series such Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story and the telemovie Schapelle, both of which are yet to be cast, Nine also flagged a change in the programming of their international cricket coverage.

The network will broadcast next year's Ashes series from England, which begins in July, live in primetime on its digital high-definition channel Gem.

Covering the Ashes out of England has been a contentious television broadcast issue for the past few tours. Nine has been criticised for favouring Wimbledon coverage and for not starting its live broadcast of the cricket until too late in the evening.

But with Seven now covering Wimbledon, Nine is free to give the Ashes the attention cricket fans believe it deserves.

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