It just occured to my that Anderson does these shootouts now because: 1) the new rods like the Hardy Zenith just came out; 2) people are getting ready for their new season purchases; 3) Anderson is bored during the winter months.
In Anderson's defense, he states that he and his gang have fished for years, around the world, and with many different rods. While Anderson certainly has a preference for a particular type of rod, I would guess that he can form a valid opinion by handling them in a gym/lawn. Many (most?) anglers buy rods based on a few minutes of casting in the parking lot, so Anderson's shootout goes way beyond that.