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Turner, CBS to Serve BBQ

4/04/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Now that the college basketball’s
“March Madness” is near its end, Turner Sports
will turn its attention to another elimination
tournament — this
time on the barbecue
grill, rather than the
hardwood.

The network has
teamed with reality series
production company
Original Media
— developers of TLC’s
reality series BBQ Pit
Masters
— to create a
new barbecue-cooking
special, Ultimate
Barbecue Showdown
,
which will air on CBS in May as part of Turner’s
long-term NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
partnership with the broadcast network.

On the show, four award-winning barbecue
cooking experts will square off in a elimination
competition series to determine which is best
in the country, according to Will Funk, senior
vice president of NCAA Branded Partnerships
and Branded Programming for Turner Sports.
The special was scheduled to be taped this past
weekend in
Houston, during
the NCAA
men’s basketball
Final Four.

“We thought
about Houston
and the Final
Four as a
backdrop; we
thought that
there was a natural
fit there,”
he said. “It’s not
an NCAA show in any way, but we feel the
environment is perfect to capture the excitement
and energy of the Final Four fans that
will be on-site.”

Turner hopes the special will appeal to the
same demographic target as the NCAA tournament
— men 18 to 49. “The BBQ genre skews
very male, so that’s an obviously a good fit for
the sports demographic,” he said.

The show will air May 28 on CBS — one of
several hours on the network’s weekend sports
block that Turner Sports can use to program
original content, under the 14-year, $10.8 billion
rights deal with that Turner Sports and CBS
Sports reached with the NCAA last year.

Funk said the show will take an Iron Chef
approach to the competition, with the participants
cooking to impress a panel of celebrity
judges.

Turner has already secured charcoal company
Kingsford as the sponsor for the event.
Funk believes that the special offers a number
of brand integration opportunities with BBQrelated
categories such as charcoal, barbecue
sauce and beverages, but would not reveal specific deals in the works.

If successful, Ultimate Barbecue Showdown
could potentially become a series franchise
for the company.

“If this is successful, we’re looking to produce
additional episodes for CBS in that
programming time that Turner has on the
network,” Funk said.

September