by Kelly Campbell
Move over Kardashians – there’s a new, unexpected reality TV show hitting our screens this fall. Pickleball Paddle Battle is a pickleball-themed reality competition show hosted by American television personality Clayton Echard. Echard is most known for his time on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
Whether you love it or hate it, reality television has become a household staple in the US. From Real Housewives to Survivor to American Idol to Jersey Shore, reality shows makeup about 60% of US prime-time television. Approximately 79% of television-watching adults in the US watch reality shows. Although the most common reality program genre revolves around dating (about 39% of reality shows are based on finding love), we know that it seems like there are reality shows about just about anything you can think of. And, now, there’s a reality tv show for picklers to add to the mix.
According to the August 3rd press release, the special is a product of Pickleball Kingdom Productions to showcase the “excitement and spirit of pickleball in addition to awarding major prizes to contestants.” The show will include both on-and-off-court drama as contestants compete for prizes, guided by Echard.
“As the host, Clayton will take viewers behind the scenes to explore each contestant’s backstory as well as drama and intense rivalries that will unfold during the competition,” said CEO and Founder of Pickleball Kingdom, Ace Rodrigues. “Viewers will be treated to Clayton’s charisma and hosting skills while the show will deliver unprecedented access to the players that make the sport so special.”
Clayton Echard came to the limelight when he was a contestant on the 18th season of The Bachelorette. He became even more popular in 2021 when he was chosen as the lead for season 26 of The Bachelor. The 30-year-old Eureka, MO native is a self-proclaimed “Physical & Mental Wellness Advocate” living in Scottsdale, AZ.
“Pickleball is not just having a moment – it’s America’s fastest-growing sport,” said Echard. “As soon as I learned about the show’s format, the competition, and the amazing prizes, I knew this had all the makings of a great reality show! It combines two of America’s passions; pickleball and reality shows. I’m thrilled to be the host and can’t wait to get started!”
This isn’t the first time pickleball has been on television outside of tournament coverage. Back in November 2022, Stephen Colbert produced and hosted Pickled, a CBS celebrity pickleball battle to raise money for charity. Celebrity contestants included Emma Watson, Will Ferrell, Max Greenfield, Dierks Bentley, and more. The two-hour special is still available to watch on CBS Paramount Plus.
As much as pickleball has evolved since its inception, we’ve always known that there’s a large untapped entertainment market for picklers. From pickleball entertainment facilities that mix dinking, drinking, and more, event spaces, and more recently, pickleball on television, pickleball is now so popular that it transcends the sports market. After Pickled and with the upcoming Pickle Paddle Battle, it’s clear that there’s a demand for a greater dinking presence on television. That’s likely because of pickleball’s accessibility – although we obviously know that competition can get really intense, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to join in on the pickleball fun. That’s why pickleball has gotten so popular so quickly – it brings people of all ages together to enjoy the sport. With this entertainment success, maybe we can shift our focus from making pickleball a core sport in the US to watching it become something even bigger.