AXN bills it as the "big one" this quarter. And why wouldn't it, when the show stars actor Sylvester Stallone, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and sixteen 'contenders', who are vying for a $1 million prize money?
The most expensive American reality series 'The Contender' will debut on AXN on March 10-11 at 9.00 pm. However, the show will be subsequently carried over to the 10.00 pm slot on every Monday.
For the uninitiated, 'The Contender' is a boxing show produced by Mark Burnett, who has programmes such as Survivor, Eco Challenge and The Apprentice to his credit. Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard, who are co-producers of the show along with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Television, act as 'mentors' to 16 aspiring boxers, who slug it out for $1 million prize money.
The emphasis of the show - unlike most reality TV programmes on AXN that typically focus on having fun or seeking some kind of thrill or pleasure (such as Amazing Race or Thirty Seconds to Fame or Fear Factor) - is on building a 'connect' with the viewers by projecting raw emotions of the contestants and their family-members.
It is this 'mentor and family connection' that AXN is banking on to pull audiences, and especially women, apart from men, the primary TG of the show.
'The Contender' will be part of the Platinum Showcase - an initiative that was kicked off this year by the channel for all its prized properties. Thus, another "big one", that is, Francis Ford Coppola's '4400', which is nearing its end at the moment, debuted in the 10.00 pm slot on February 1, 2005, as part of the Showcase.
"There are no fixed slots for the Showcase," says Rohit Bhandari, assistant vice-president, marketing & sales, AXN. "It can revolve around the 9 pm, 10 pm or 11 pm bands. But for 'The Contender' and as well as '4400', we felt that the 10 pm band was just right."
'The Contender', incidentally, will not see a marketing blitzkrieg, but more of tactical advertising across TV, Internet, radio and outdoor. Print is out of the media mix to "optimise spends" and there will be cross promotions of 'The Contender' on sister channels SET and MAX.
Some other properties to follow 'The Contender, which is a 15-episode series, will be 'The Messiah', another Platinum Showcase, and the movie 'Kill Bill', which will see its second run on a C&S channel after its debut on Zee Movie Zone last year.
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