In the series of reality shows hitting the telly tube, Contender is the new kid on the block. The Contender will be premiered on AXN India on March 10 (Thursday) at 9 pm. This 90-minute premiere special will feature boxing legend Sylvester Stallone along with Olympiad champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Its second episode will be aired on March 11at 9 pm, and thereafter the new episodes will be shown every Monday at 10 pm.
Said Rohit Bhandari, Director (South Asia), AXN, "In the list of high pedigree shows, the Contender is definitely the biggest. Contender is a natural fit for AXN as it is associated with top-notch action and dramatic programmes. This will be one of the first heavy-duty action-packed reality shows that will provide the Indian audiences with unique and exciting alternative. This is an attempt to make sport popular in the reality genre."
Bhandari said, "Sixteen contenders shortlisted from USA will undergo weekly training, culminating in a series of bouts where friendships and rivalries are put to the test as they face off one another in the ring. Acting as a mentor to them is Hollywood's boxing legend Sylvester Stallone, whose iconic boxer character Rocky has became the epitome of inspiration in the world of boxing, and Sugar Ray Leonard, the boxing Olympic gold medallist who won an unprecedented five world titles in five weight classes. "
The channel is taking on a well-devised marketing campaign for the same, which include bus backs, hoardings, FM stations and portals such as MSN and Yahoo. Bhandari said that the channel has also thought of promotions and contests, wherein merchandise would be given out. The sponsors for the show are LG, Mountain Dew and Skoda.
Has AXN thought of experimenting with more of home-grown shows in the reality/action genre? Bhandari said, "We have considered it. But the fact remains that while all our shows are of extremely high quality, there are a few production houses in India, which can dish out the same quality of creative product. AXN viewers demand certain standards from our kind of programming, and it's essential for us to stick to those standards. Maybe in the near future, we would experiment with home-grown shows, but at present, we already have plenty of existing long-term contracts with production houses abroad." The winner of the Contender will receive a boxing contract and a professional title to his name. The show is a joint production between Mark Burnett Productions and heavyweight production studio DreamWorks Television.