Sportsman Gears for 'Hunt'

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Setting the stage for a new reality competition series, The Sportsman Channel will hit the trail Aug. 24 with a multi-city tour and open tryouts for contestants.

“We're marrying American Idol with The American Outdoorsman,” said Sportsman director of affiliate marketing Sandi Castro. “Basically what we're doing is a very grassroots effort. We're going into 15 markets throughout the country and we are having open-call tryouts, which will allow local contestants to audition for Hunt for the Next Sportsman.”

Each city will get a visit from the channel's green-screen dual-audition stage, from which finalists will respond to various hunting and fishing scenarios for the chance to compete on the show and, ultimately, take a shot at the grand prize: an African safari.

The top ten finalists from each market — as voted on by a celebrity panel of judges, including Sportsman show hosts Ben Chancey and John Church — will then have their auditions posted on TheSportsmanChannel.com for viewers to vote on. The frontrunners will compete for the grand prize and national winner title, to be named during an episode of Sportsman's original highlight show The Lodge.

Working with such local affiliates as Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast, Suddenlink Communications, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon Communications, the tour starts in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Aug. 24. followed by stops in Birmingham, Ala.; Lawrenceville, Ga.; Concord, N.C.; Hampton, Va.; Warwick, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; Triadelphia, W.Va.; Hazelwood, Mont.; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver, Colo.; Glendale, Ariz.; and Katy and San Antonio, Tex. The last stop: Oct. 5 in Fort Worth, Tex.

Castro noted Sportsman was stopping in Phoenix where the channel does not currently air with an eye toward luring consumer demand for the channel. To that end, the 15-million subscriber hunting and fishing channel, which was bought in June by InterMedia Outdoors Holdings, is also featuring SUVs tagged with its logo and 1-800 numbers to stimulate consumer calls requesting the channel.

Sportsman will partner with a local retailer in each market, including St. Petersburg-based Oneill's Marina, Marks Outdoor Sports in Birmingham; Mitchels Bait and Tackle in Rochester; D&L Shooting Supplies in Warwick; and chain retailers Bass Pro and Cabela's.

Complementing Hunt, The Sportsman Channel will also target “engaging, beautiful and enthusiastic talent” through its Hunt for the Next Sportsmodel competition. The winner will be flown to the channel's studio to help host a future show.

Sportsman has committed to one new original program every quarter and will follow Hunt in October with You Are the Sportsman, which will incorporate viewer-submitted videos.

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