GSN places summer bets

Cable web greenlights 'Ballbreakers,' 'Win'

Bolstering its top-rated casino-related programming, GSN has greenlit a billiards show and a docu series about high-stakes gambling for the summer months.

“Ballbreakers,” slated to premiere July 18, will pit amateur pool sharks against each other for a $20,000 pot. Players include Tia Carrere, Lou Diamond Phillips, Camryn Manheim, Eric Roberts, Noah Wyle, Goran Visnjic, Dorian Harewood and Julie McCullough. Sal Masekela (“X Games”) hosts.

“Anything to Win” is a 13-episode series recounting some of the most famous true stories of people who’ve risked it all to win.

“The highest-rated program in the network’s history was the documentary ‘Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal.’ So it makes sense for us to try the format as a weekly,” said prexy-CEO Rich Cronin, who added that execs are already developing a companion doc series for the show.

Skein will delve into Rosie Ruiz’s 1980 “win” in the Boston Marathon, the MIT card-counting scheme and the scandal surrounding a computer programmer who tried to rig his win betting on the Breeder’s Cup. Show bows Aug. 14.

Summer lineup also includes a comedians-vs.-pros edition of “Poker Royale” (July 8), the return of buddy competition series “Kenny vs. Spenny” (July 11) and fresh batches of “Extreme Dodgeball” (July 19) and “Lingo” (Aug. 1).

Since its transformation to an all-games network one year ago, cabler has gained the attention of younger audiences via a slew of gaming shows. GSN rose 35% in 18-34 primetime cable rankings last month from the previous year. And while total viewership has dwindled, net has achieved a more even male-to-female balance.

“Before the change, we were 30-70 male-female. Today, our casino shows have skewed 50-50 male-female,” Cronin said. “Our summer slate, spearheaded by programming head Ian Valentine, is aimed at both building our presence in the casino-related programming arena and experimenting with different formats.”

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