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CBS Cable to wheel out ‘Roller Jam’ merchandise

TNN roller derby wares hope to imitate WWF's success

NEW YORK — CBS Cable announced plans Wednesday for launching a licensing line behind “WSL RollerJam,” the updated version of roller derby that CBS weblet TNN began airing in mid-January.

The line, which will include dolls, vehicles and action figures, was said to be the brainchild of Jon Peisinger, president of CBS Cable licensing rep Creative Branding Systems.

CBS Cable hopes to duplicate the cable/licensing success of the World Wrestling Federation and, to that end, has even retained WWF licensing partner Jakks Pacific for its “Rollerjam” line.

When launched on Jan. 15 under the auspices of the World Skating League, “Rollerjam” more than doubled the audience — to 2.9 million viewers — of the programming it replaced.

The two-hour broadcast, which pits two co-ed teams, airs Fridays and is repeated Saturdays. In April, TNN started repeating another hour on Mondays.

The new version of the inline gladiatorial contest builds on the excitement of the old “Roller Derby,” which first aired on CBS in 1948, through the use of high-tech skates, a banked oval track and camera angles that insert the viewer into the action.

Licensed product, deemed “a natural” by CBS brass, will begin shipping by March.