Sportsman Starts Hunt for the Next Sportsman

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Setting the stage for reality competition series Hunt for the Next Sportsman, The Sportsman Channel will hit the trail Aug. 24 with a multicity tour and open tryouts for its new show.

“We’re marrying American Idol with The American Outdoorsman,” said Sandi Castro, director of affiliate marketing for Sportsman. “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, where 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 African Safari trip.

The channel is also featuring sport-utility vehicles tagged with Sportsman logos and 1-800 numbers to call in and request the channel from local operators.

The tour will start in St. Petersburg, Fla., Aug. 24, followed by Birmingham, Ala.; Lawrenceville, Ga.; Concord, N.C.; Hampton, Va.; Warwick, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; Triadelphia, W. Va.; Hazelwood, Mont.; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver; Glendale, Ariz.; and Katy and San Antonio, Texas. The last stop will be Oct. 5 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Local affiliates in those markets include Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast, Suddenlink Communications, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Castro added that the network was stopping in Phoenix, where it does not currently air, with an eye toward luring consumer demand.

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

The channel is also partnering with a video-game company on a hunting-themed game in at least one market, and it will solicit feedback via a “Duck Blind Confessional” booth.

The top 10 finalists from each city -- 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 the network’s Web site for viewers to vote on. The front-runners will compete for the grand prize and national winner title, to be named during an episode of Sportsman’s original highlight show, The Lodge.

Portions of the event will also air on The Lodge weekly, with future plans for a DVD offering including behind-the-scenes footage.

Complementing Hunt, Sportsman 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 it will follow Hunt in October with You Are the Sportsman, which will incorporate viewer-submitted videos.

The four-year-old, 15 million-household sporting and fishing channel was bought in June by InterMedia Outdoors Holdings, thereby widening its scope of resources, Castro said.

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