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ESPN Sets Contender for April Debut

As expected, ESPN Thursday announced that it has acquired the rights to the sophomore season of off-NBC boxing reality series The Contender.

The Mark Burnett-produced series, which pits 16 would-be pro boxers against each other for a chance at pro-boxing deal, will bow on ESPN in April 2006, said network executives. ESPN has options to renew the series for two subsequent seasons, and the network plans to utilize the series across all media platforms, including potential pay-per-view event opportunities featuring series participants, said network executives.. 

The Contender has all of the elements that make it the right fit for ESPN: compelling storylines, dynamic characters and suspense over the outcome,” said ESPN executive vice president, programming and production Mark Shapiro in a statement. “This series speaks to our viewers’ love for competition and their appreciation for triumph over adversity, and it goes without saying that the track record of Mark Burnett is exemplary -- a perfect match for the critical and ratings successes EOE has delivered in both scripted and unscripted drama.“