WGN Gets Into Originals Game

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WGN Superstation is taking the original plunge with a pair of shows: a reality program tracking a top auto racer and a paintball competition series.

Viewers were able to watch an April 2 preview of WGN’s first original series effort when it took the lid off Ultimate Arena Paintball. The series features the play of the World Paintball League, comprising 24 professional teams in three conferences across the U.S. and Canada, and its feeder system, the Ultimate Arena Paintball League.

Coming out of the gate this fall is Race Car Driver, a look at the life on and off the track of Champ Car driver Paul Tracy, who was the circuit’s champion in 2003 and won the most races a year ago.

NEW YORK SHOWCASE

The shows were among those touted at WGN’s upfront advertising presentation in New York on March 31.

WGN has ordered 13 episodes of Race Car Driver from Dallas-based AMS Production Group, said network executives. The show, aimed at the 18-to-34 set, will follow Tracy and his team, family and girlfriend from qualifying through the after-race parties.

As for Ultimate Arena Paintball, which is also targeting young adults, WGN is airing five half-hour previews this spring and a like number of one-hour exhibitions in October. The following month, it will break into 26 regular-season installments.

In an earlier interview, WGN director of programming and production Ken Reiner called UAP a “cross between WWE and extreme skateboarding.”

Reiner said UAP will air on Saturdays in either fringe or access windows: “It’s fast-paced, team-oriented action that has an adrenaline rush to it. We believe it will appeal to young adults, particularly the 18 to 34s.”

In addition to the originals, WGN executives at the upfront also touted parent Tribune Broadcasting’s acquisition of Sex and the City, an edited version of which will join the superstation’s lineup this fall.

WGN executives were also talking up the 30 Chicago White Sox and 70 Chicago Cubs games the network will air.

Movie packages and film marathons also provide opportunities for advertisers to ring up GRPs, according to executives.

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