CBC hits bars, nabs stars for Test the Nation

The pubcaster's Test the Nation: Sports will air this month, and the net's betting on a high audience engagement factor due to the timing of the hockey season - even if the test isn't live this time around.

CBC is gearing up for the latest installment of its interactive national quizfest, Test the Nation: Sports, which hits the air at 8 pm on Sunday, May 25. The two-hour event is hosted by Wendy Mesley, who will be joined by Hockey Night in Canada‘s Ron MacLean. Don Cherry will also make a guest appearance, delivering one of the 50 questions from Coach’s Corner.

The pubcaster and its partners are again inviting participation from viewers online, by mobile or in public. Viewers can log on to www.cbc.ca/testthenation and download the official scorecard, which will also be distributed in the National Post on Saturday, May 24. Earlier this year, sports fans also took the test at BuzzTime pubs and restaurants. When the show airs, viewers will have the chance to win a Wii by texting P-L-A-Y on their cell phones following an on-air call to action.

Test the Nation: Sports will feature 240 Canadians from every province and territory. It pits six teams against each other, including sportscasters, armchair athletes, Olympic medallists, mascots and cheerleaders, referees and umpires and extreme athletes. Celebrity coaches playing from the sidelines include Alan Thicke (jPod), designer and Project Runway mentor Brian Bailey, hockey legend Paul Coffey, stand-up comedian Debra DiGiovanni, musician Chris Murphy from Sloan and actress Victoria Pratt.

CBC senior marketing manager, brand activation factual entertainment Steven Pitkanen tells MiC the BuzzTime pubs and restaurants promotion was ‘an interesting vehicle. We wanted to get as much out there about the show as possible, and BuzzTime was a vehicle to solicit people to play the game in restaurants across the country back in January. We needed to find a winner from BuzzTime to bring into the studio, and we shot the sports show in March. This is the first one that’s not live. I’ve got to say it lends itself to a larger multiplatform audience when it’s a live show. This is the first time we’ve taped it so far in advance, and the main reason for that is that we wanted to bring in a big playoff audience.’

The CBC’s first Test the Nation broadcast in March 2007 raked in 1.5 million viewers, the most successful so far. Last September, Test the Nation: Watch Your Language attracted about 900,000 viewers. Following this month’s Sports edition, Test the Nation: Canada, eh? will air on CBC’s fall schedule.