America’s Greatest Makers is a series from noted reality show producer Mark Burnett and co-sponsored by Intel and the TBS cable network. Intel announced the program last year, and filming took place over the last few months. The show will premiere on TBS April 4th at 9 pm Eastern (check those local listings).
It’s a more targeted competition program compared to All-American Makers, which is broadcast on The Science Channel. That program is a variation on the Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank style where product developers pitch their wares to an investor and two product testers. The products are then tested against their product claims and run through focus groups to determine their market potential.
America’s Greatest Makers will start with 24 teams of makers and work its way to one finalist over the course of the program. The 24 teams will be winnowed down to fifteen during the first two episodes, then to five finalists over the next five weeks. Those finalists will compete for the million dollar top prize. Experts will hear the initial pitches, and a panel of judges will be joined by celebrity guests to make decisions later in the process (I’d guess one guest judge for each week the competition goes from 15 to five teams). Those judges are:
Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel
Kevin Pereira, host of Hack My Life and an angel investor
Carol Roth, CNBC television personality, former investment banker
There will also be several guest judges:
Massimo Banzi, co-founder/CEO of Arduino
Mayim Bialik, actress and neuroscientist
Shaqullie O’Neal, TBS/TNT basketball analyst
Mike Rowe, host of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, Dirty Jobs, evangelist for the skilled trades
Kenny Smith, TBS/TNT basketball analyst
The same channel airing the program will be broadcasting several of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament games, including the championship game on April 4. Two of the guest judges are part of the TBS coverage of the tournament, and reruns of The Big Bang Theory, where Mayim Bialik plays a neuroscientist, air on TBS frequently. The synergy is there.
There is already a digital channel for the program, including several videos featuring makers and their work. It is hosted by Cara Santa Maria, a science communicator and journalist.
It’s possible that the nature of how this show was created will make the criteria for success a bit different. This Turner press release notes the development of a ‘native advertising’ aspect of their networks, meaning that what makes the future of the show could be more about how happy Intel is with the program rather than simple numbers of eyeballs (and whether those eyeballs were in desirable demographics). Should the show be renewed, it would be useful to check to see how many people watched it.