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Speed Veers Into Reality

1/31/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Speed will celebrate its 15th
anniversary by revving up its weekly primetime
lineup in February with motor sportsthemed
reality series programming.

While the Fox
Sports Media Groupowned
network will
keep live coverage
of NASCAR, Formula
One, Grand American
Road Racing,
AMA Supercross,
and MotoGP races
as its focus, the new
primetime reality
fare is meant to appeal
to casual motor
sports fans, Speed
president Hunter
Nickell said.

Speed ’s new
primetime lineup,
which debuts the
week of Feb. 21 —
following its coverage of NASCAR’s seasonopening
Speedweeks events from Daytona
Beach — will feature reality series targeted
to motor sports “enthusiasts” into fast cars
and racing, according to Nickell.

FILLING GEARHEAD NICHE

“There’s a huge number of motor sports enthusiasts,
including car collectors, hobbyists
and builders, in the car and motorcyle
world,” he said. “There’s not a lot of motor
sports competition going on Monday
through Thursday night, so we’re going to
feed the enthusiasts’ appetite with our new
shows.”

Among the new series: Car Warriors, a reality-
competition series in which eight “allstar”
car builders race average Joes from local
garages around the race to see who can turn a
basic, run-down car into a slick-running automobile.

Other shows include American Trucker, a
series hosted by truck expert and HGTV Design
Star
finalist Rob Mariani featuring iconic
trucks and their historic cargo missions; Car
Science
, an off shoot of popular cable franchises
Sports Science and Fight Science; and
Speedmakers, which takes a look at builders
and epic innovators of acceleration.

In Ticket to Ride With Dan Neil, the Pulitzer
Prize-winning automotive writer
from The Wall Street Journal will take
viewers inside the business of cars, while
The 10 will offer up a list of NASCAR’s best
of the best.

Speed’s NASCAR Hub news show will preface
its primetime lineup Monday to Thursday,
Nickell said.

Later this year, Speed will debut a new series
focused on Gymkhana, the popular new
motor sport franchise, from director/producer
Rob Cohen (The Fast & The Furious), as
well as series of specials with proposed hosts
Adam Carolla and Jay Leno.

Speed hopes the primetime focus on reality
will reverse a 19% decline in audience in 2010 to
228,000 viewers, compared to 280,000 in 2009.

As part of its wall-to-wall weekend coverage
of motor sports events, the network last
week debuted SpeedCenter, a live news and
information show that airs at various times
from Friday to Sunday.

On Sunday nights at 7 p.m., the network
will air a one-hour version of SpeedCenter,
recapping the weekend’s racing news.

REVVING UP DIGITAL

Speed will continue to build its digital footprint
via Speed.com and Speed Mobile,
Nickell added. The network is also in talks
to increase distribution for Speed2, a broadband
service that offers live and taped international
motor sports events unique to
the Web. Currently, Time Warner Cable and
Bright House Networks offer Speed2.

“We have a great opportunity to really
build out the platforms that are attached to
the Speed brand,” Nickell said.

March