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Professional bull riders, who routinely take on bucking, 2,000-pound bulls, are about to mount an even bigger challenge: a push into broadcast network TV.

Hoping to follow in the tracks of NASCAR, the 800 or so cowboys on the bull-riding circuit are migrating next season from cable to NBC and CBS, where they hope to rope much larger audiences. NBC, which saw its first bull riding event in the fall draw surprisingly strong numbers, will air at least six more contests in the upcoming season, including one following a NASCAR race Nov. 17. CBS will show its first bull riding event after an NFL game Oct. 20.

Organizers say they've also signed a deal with the Outdoor Channel, the upstart cable net with 16 million cable and satellite subscribers.

"The whole idea is to increase the coverage" of bull riding, says Tuff Hedeman, president of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Professional Bull Riders (PBR), which negotiated the deals with NBC and CBS and acknowledges NASCAR as a model. "Like it or not, their success is tied to television."

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