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August 06, 2008

ABC renews 'Wipeout'

Really just a formality at this point: ABC has officially picked up "Wipeout" for a second season.

The network ordered 16 episodes, which will likely debut next summer. That's an increase from the current first 11-episode run.

"Wipeout" has been the No. 2 series this summer, behind NBC's "America's Got Talent" among total viewers and Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" in the adult demo. It's also the highest-rated freshman post-season series for any network in three years in the demo, going back to the first season of "Dancing With the Stars."

Most important: "Wipeout" finally gives ABC a much-needed summer tentpole, which is why the network prefers to make viewers wait until next year before bringing it back, even though executives would presumably love to have this show as a reliable utility player in-season. The only potential hitch in that strategic and patient plan is all those other  Japanese-inspired game show projects in the works on other networks that could wear out the genre's welcome before "Wipeout" has chance to return. Then again, given the performance of ABC's own "I Survived a Japanese Game Show," "Wipeout" may be lightening in a bottle and its success tough to duplicate.

In the meantime, recognizing that variety is key to keeping the show fresh, producers are expected to craft new obstacles for the second season.

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