Discovery, Snow go 'Wild' in China

First episode of reality show completed on Hainan Island

BEIJING -- Discovery Channel and China's Snow Beer on Thursday announced the completion of the first made-in-China episode of the survival adventure show "Man vs. Wild," starring British ex-commando Bear Grylls.

Shot in the jungles of southern China's Hainan Island during the recent typhoon Kestana for about $250,000, the episode will air across China over the lunar new year holiday in February, 2010, Chang Fang, Discovery's Asia-Pacific general manager, said at a news conference.

The Hainan adventure will bring to a head a year-long, 52-episode "Man vs Wild" advertising partnership between Discovery and Snow that Chang said had paid off for broadcasters such as Beijing TV, Shanghai TV and TVS-1 in Guangzhou, with "better than average ratings" -- especially during the recent weeklong National Day holiday in early Oct.

"Man vs. Wild" airs on 27 provincial and municipal TV stations across China on a Discovery Channel branded block that has expanded its reach from just a few markets since its official start here in 2000, Chang said.

Snow is just the latest Chinese beer to partner with U.S. programming trying to reach China's growing affluent 25-54 year-old, predominantly male set. China's No. 1 beer brand, Tsingtao has a sponsorship deal with the National Basketball Assn.

"Man vs Wild" in Hainan features Grylls hitching five hours into the jungle on the back of a truck full of pigs, jumping into a typhoon-swollen river, then surviving a few nights in the jungle by trapping and eating rats, frogs and bats as he tries to get out.

"I didn't expect the Chinese jungle to be so tough. It was definitely the hardest jungle I've ever experienced and I think this episode reflects this," said Grylls.