GSN Expands Into Reality TV With New Series

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At its upfront presentation, the network owned by Sony and DirecTV said it also is developing “The American Bible Challenge” with host Jeff Foxworthy and bringing back “The Newlywed Game” with Sherri Shepherd for a sixth season.

NEW YORK -- GSN plans to broaden its brand by adding reality TV shows to its studio-based game shows. At its upfront presentation Wednesday, the cable network unveiled its first programming and development slate under executive vp programming Amy Introcaso-Davis.

Among the shows that the network owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and DirecTV is planning are The American Bible Challenge with host Jeff Foxworthy, which it is developing. It also has greenlighted an update on the classic pyramid game and is bringing back The Newlywed Game with host Sherri Shepherd for a sixth season. And its reality TV plans include shows that revolve around alternative pageants, auctioneers and secondhand engagement rings.

“Game has always been a key component of the pop culture landscape,” said Introcaso-Davis, a former Oxygen and Bravo executive. “We see an opportunity to expand our brand promise by broadening the definition of television game to include a variety of programming that stays true to our core attributes: the excitement and fun of winning, entertainment for the whole family, and viewer engagement.”

Introcaso-Davis, who joined GSN in November, highlighted three types of programming: shiny floor games -- which feature “new concepts whose overall look, feel and sound design will be innovative and a departure from those typically associated with television game shows" -- real-life games and iconic games reinvented.

John Zaccario, GSN’s executive vp advertising sales, said the broader programming philosophy will open new opportunities for advertisers. “The flexibility and openness of game formats are now coupled with the possibilities of endemic and organic brand placements, as we expand to include real-life games and celebrate the lives of interesting people,” he said.

In one major program announcement, GSN said it has signed Foxworthy as host and producer for the pilot of original game show The American Bible Challenge. The pilot for the one-hour studio show, which sees contestants competing based on their knowledge of the Bible, will shoot this month.

"I am excited to be hosting a show about the best-selling book of all time,” said Foxworthy. “It will be interesting to find out what people really know and an opportunity to present the Bible in a fun and entertaining way.” The comedian is currently seen on GSN in his role as host of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
The Bible show is produced by Relativity REAL with Tom Forman and Embassy Row’s Michael Davies serving as executive producers.

GSN said its overall programming is averaging double-digit percentage growth in key viewer groups compared with the start of the 2011-12 TV season, with viewers in the 25-54 demo up 12 percent and women in that group up 23 percent. 

Its greenlighted original series also include cooking challenge show Beat the Chefs, a new version of word-guessing game The $100,000 Pyramid and Pure Gold, which focuses on people looking to sell valuables.

More reality fare comes in the form of I Do, Now I Don’t, about a business that deals in secondhand engagement rings; The Family Trade, about a family whose dealership trades cars for anything from pigs to a hot-air balloon, coffins or maple syrup; Crowning Glory, about alternative pageants such as the Miss Klingon Empire, Miss Rodeo America and the Zombie Pin-Up; and War of the Rose Sisters, which features four hard-driving auctioneer sisters who sell millions of dollars worth of goods every year.


Twitter: @georgszalai