ABC is continuing to experiment filling its weekend afternoon time slots with original, primetime-like programming. The network has picked up Bud United Presents: The Big Time, a branded content reality show put together by Budweiser that features adults competing to fulfill their dreams revolving around sports and entertainment. Seven episodes are set to air beginning Saturday, January 21 at 3 PM ET/2 PM CT. The deal was struck with ABC cable sibling ESPN, which took the series to the broadcast network. ”These shows offer a compelling trifecta — sports, entertainment plus viewer engagement via social media,” said Jason Bernstein, senior director ESPN programming and acquisitions. “It’s a unique blend of content, and we’re pleased Budweiser came to us with the opportunity to present it on ABC.” It’s not the first time the network is toying with original content on the weekend: In October, the game show Million Dollar Mind Game, based on a Russian format and originally scheduled for primetime, aired on Sunday afternoons (that move was in part motivated by the network scrambling to find a replacement for NBA games during the lockout, and it wanted to give the show a trial run). Each episode of The Big Time will feature three fans competing for their shot at living out their dream, coached and mentored by pros. Casting was done via Bud’s social media sites and is part of the beer label’s Bud United platform launched last year to connect consumers with its brand.
The announcement comes as Budweiser’s corporate parent Anheuser-Busch InBev was set to renew its big partnership deal with the NBA now that the league has ended its lockout and solidified its schedule. Gatorade and AutoTrader.com also reupped, and the league said it didn’t lose a single partner because of the labor unrest, which has cut the schedule from 82 games to 66 and kicks off on Christmas Day with five games — two of them on ABC.