With reality series becoming one of the most popular TV genres, GSN is embracing real-life characters with its new programming slate and is expanding the number of originals, Amy Introcaso-Davis, executive vice president of programming and development, told CableFAX. Davis believes that real characters are even supplanting celebrities in some ways. “When you think about celebrities, you think about movie stars…What is happening with reality programming is, the real person has become the celebrity,” she said.
 
For one, its Bible-themed game show has become an important trend for faith-based programming, the former Oxygen and Bravo exec said. Currently in its second season, “American Bible Challenge” is one of the network’s highest-rated series. It scored the network’s best delivery in its 18-year history with 1.7 million total viewers for its August 2012 series premiere. The reason that the bible show is popular is because it plays into this trend, Davis said. With the popularity of the show, “we have the opportunity to build on that," she said. Case in point: “It Takes A Church,” a new 1-hour church-based dating series is currently in development. The series features a church community going on a mission to find love for a single parishioner, without him knowing.
 
Meanwhile, in an unusual move, the network renewed “The Chase” ahead of the August premiere. The series, based on a UK show of the same name, features four contestants trying to gather as much money as possible by answering rapid-fire questions in a 60-secound round. “It’s a bit of a risk,” Davis acknowledged. However, after previewing a number of episodes, the team thought the series, hosted by Brooke Burns, is “wildly entertaining to watch.” “It’s a great show for trivia, but not so hard that you wouldn’t be able to play along," he said. "It gives us a feeling of a successful format.”
 
Looking back, GSN had a successful 2012, with double digital increases year over year in ratings and ad revenue. And going forward, the network is determined to continue growth: “We are doubling up our production” and adding more original programming this year, said Introcaso-Davis. In addition, GSN will continue to celebrate real characters whom viewers may find relevant to their own lives.

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ESPN is activating its MegaCast production for the NFL Wild Card presentation (taking place Jan 9 or 10). ESPN and ABC will simulcast the Wild Card game, and ESPN2 and Freeform

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