Fox Brings Back The Masked Singer This Fall, Then Will Debut Season 3 After Super Bowl LIV

Network says Empire will end after upcoming Season 6

Fox will air two cycles of The Masked Singer next TV season, with Season 3 debuting Feb. 2 after the Super Bowl.

Next season, Fox is doubling down on The Masked Singer, which became TV’s biggest freshman hit this year, by bringing the show back again this fall and giving its Season 3 premiere the biggest lead-in possible: Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 of next year.

As Fox unveiled its 2019-20 schedule ahead of this afternoon’s upfront presentation at New York’s Beacon Theatre, the network said that Empire—which, early in its run, was one of TV’s biggest hits—would conclude after its upcoming Season 6.

This is Fox’s first slate since Fox Corp. spun off on March 19, one day before Disney closed its $71 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s assets, as well as for Charlie Collier, who was named CEO of Fox Entertainment last fall.

With the first fall schedule that includes both of its major sports acquisitions over the past two years—Thursday Night Football and WWE’s SmackDown Live, which will debut on Friday, Oct. 4 and run 52 weeks a year—Fox has limited available schedule space and only has room for two new dramas and one freshman comedy this fall.

That means the network is holding several major shows for midseason, including 9-1-1 spinoff 9-1-1: Lone Star, which stars Rob Lowe and will get the benefit of the network’s other major NFL lead-in this year: premiering after the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 19.

The Masked Singer became broadcast’s biggest freshman hit soon after debuting in January. It was the season’s No. 5 show in the 18-49 demo, with a 3.8 Nielsen most current rating. Fox has scheduled two cycles of the show: Season 2 will air this fall, while Season 3 will debut after Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2 and make its time period premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

The series will air Wednesdays at 8 p.m., displacing Empire, which Fox now says will end after its upcoming sixth season.

“We are turning the final season of Empire into a large television event,” Collier told reporters this morning. “We are really trying to go out guns a-blazing.” However, there are “no plans at this point” for Jussie Smollett to return to the show in the aftermath of his arrest following Chicago police claims that he staged the assault he reported in January. (While charges against the actor were dropped, many questions about the incident remain.)

Last Man Standing, the only other Fox freshman series to get renewed (the network hasn’t made a decision on new game show Mental Samurai, but canceled also its other first-year shows), will be held for midseason. The series had aired on Fridays, but will need a new time slot due to SmackDown Live.

This fall, 9-1-1 will move up an hour on Mondays to 8 p.m., followed by new crime procedural Prodigal Son from executive producer Greg Berlanti about a serial killer’s son who helps the NYPD solve crimes as a criminal psychologist.

The Resident relocates to Tuesdays at 8 p.m., followed by Empire, returning to the time slot in debuted in, for its sixth and final season.

The Masked Singer settles in Wednesdays at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than it aired Season 1. It will lead into new drama Not Just Me, about an only child who discovers that her fertility doctor father used his own sperm to father more than 100 kids.

Thursday Night Football returns on Thursdays.

Fridays will see the debut of WWE’s SmackDown Live. Fox landed those rights last summer in a five-year deal that will see the show broadcast 52 weeks a year, starting Oct. 4. Collier said the program is “a great combination of entertainment and sports,” much like Fox overall.

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