ABC makes splash with 'Wipeout' renewal

Reality show is slated to return next summer

ABC is picking up a third season of its successful summer reality hit "Wipeout" from Endemol.

The network is bringing the series back next year. At a time when few broadcast reality shows earn second or third seasons, the return of the stunt-driven series shows that last year's popular debut was no flash in the pan.

"We've always maintained that because 'Wipeout' is a big, exciting stunt show and also a comedy that it had the ability to be a long-lasting show," said David Goldberg, chairman of Endemol North America. "In this climate, any time you can get a show that's on the new side picked up for more episodes is exciting."

The "Wipeout" production engaged in some proactive online promotion during the series, offering live factoids about the show via Twitter during each telecast and soliciting feedback from viewers that was incorporated into the show. For season three, producers are building a largely new obstacle course, though a signature "big balls" element is being kept -- with a twist.

"We're planning a completely new course next year that's nothing like anybody has ever seen," exec producer Matt Kunitz said. "What keeps this show running is keeping the show's course fresh."

"They literally have this giant pinball machine," adds ABC's John Saade, who co-heads ABC's alternative department with Vicki Dummer. What they've devised is going to zip faster, fly higher and have contestants bouncing off a lot more objects."

"Wipeout" has averaged 8.8 million viewers this season in its regular Wednesday time period and a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49. "Wipeout" was No. 1 in its time period in the adult demo three of the past four weeks.

The order comes on the heels of Endemol's new ABC series "Dating in the Dark" premiering Monday night, drawing 6.1 million viewers and a 2.4 rating, winning its time period.