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Fox Adds Late-Night Animation to Challenge ‘Saturday Night Live’

News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting Co., home to “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” is creating a Saturday night animation lineup that will go against NBC’s long-running “Saturday Night Live.”

The new block will air at 11 p.m. Saturdays starting in January 2013, Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Entertainment, said yesterday at a TV critics conference in Pasadena, California. The Fox shows may take some male viewers from “Saturday Night Live,” Reilly said.

Fox is turning to cartoons on Saturdays, a stalwart of its Sunday night programming anchored by “The Simpsons,” which first aired in 1989. The Sunday block, which also includes “Family Guy,” has been a constant ratings winner for the network, Reilly said.

“This is a way to seed more animation,” Reilly told reporters at the conference. “We’re looking for the next generation.”

Fox also will offer animated series for viewing on computers, mobile devices and video-game consoles. The company reached an agreement in October with the voice cast of “The Simpsons” to air the show through its 25th season.

Viewership of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” remain strong even though reruns frequently air in syndication, Reilly said. He wouldn’t say whether “The Simpsons” will continue beyond the 25th season.

“Animation is incredibly resilient,” Reilly said.

Nick Weidenfeld, formerly head of program development at Adult Swim, will oversee the Fox division responsible for developing and producing the animated shows, the network said in a statement. Hend Baghdady will be in charge of production.

The Saturday-night block of programming will consist of 22-minute and 11-minute episodes, Reilly said. The online animation programming will carry mostly 11-minute segments, he said.

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