Spike Rolls Out Tough-Guy Reality Pilots

On the eve of MTV Networks’ New York upfront presentation, Spike TV on Thursday (May 8) tore the wrapper off a new batch of non-scripted original pilots, many of which seem to share a pedigree with some of the rust-collar, man-against-the-workplace programming that has created a buzz at Discovery Channel and History.

Among the new projects in the hopper for 2008-09 are River Man, a docu-series about the barge captains who navigate the perilous circuit of the Mississippi River, and USA vs. the World, a competition series pitting American tough guys against overseas bruisers. In the pilot, top alligator wranglers from Florida take on a crew of `croc brawlers from Northern Australia.

Another pilot, Tank and Cobra, revisits the bounty hunter business, while Human Predators will profile convicted murderers and contract killers.

In addition to the one-hour pilots, Spike also has a late-night half-hour series in the works (Idiot Hall Of Fame).

“We are thrilled to be partnering with some of Hollywood’s most creative minds to present a development slate that we feel will further the notion that Spike is a true destination for original programming for guys,” said Sharon Levy, senior vp, original series, Spike TV.  

Spike heads into the upfront season on a hot streak, as the network is coming off its best April in its six-year history. The net finished fourth among all ad-supported cable channels in prime time, averaging 1.76 million viewers, a leap of 56 percent versus the prior-year period. Spike finished as the fourth most-watched cable net among adults 18-49, averaging 929,000 members of the demo, an improvement of 48 percent over its April 2007 showing.

Much of Spike’s success in April was tied to its screenings of the six Star Wars films, although the net also got a lift from CSI re-runs and The Ultimate Fighter.