In Demand Lands Gravity Games

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Continuing its quest to bring high-profile sports-oriented franchises to pay-per-view, In Demand will distribute a four-day package of the extreme sports competition Gravity Games, two months before it airs on NBC.

In Demand will air three live hours of Gravity Games action each night from Aug. 1 through Aug. 4 on a PPV basis, In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York said.

The PPV programmer will sublicense the package to other distributors, such as satellite broadcasters DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., as well as TVN Entertainment Inc.

The package will retail for a suggested $14.95 per day, or $29.95 for the full four days.

NBC, which co-owns the four-year-old Gravity Games franchise along with sports-marketing firm Octagon and multimedia company Primedia Inc., will air taped segments from the games weekends as part of seven-week series, beginning Oct. 6.

In Demand will have access to most of the Gravity Games competitions, including live coverage of the inline skating finals, York said.

"We're able to get in there and get a live first window for the pay-per-view industry," York said. "We'll have 12 hours of live coverage, as well as highlights of previous day's or early-day coverage."

The Gravity Games is PPV's first extreme-sports event. Previously, the industry has offered monster-truck and motorcross events.

York would not provide rate-card specifics, although sources said operators would receive their traditional 50 percent revenue split.

Gravity Games executive director Wade Martin said In Demand's PPV presentation will provide added exposure for the competitions, which he expects will help boost viewership for NBC's October coverage.

"Pay-per-view provides unique, complementary programming for what we do on NBC, as well as provides significant promotion for the games," he said. "The core audience will be able to tune in to see the games on a PPV basis, as well as NBC's presentation."

Neither York nor Wade would provide buy-rate projections for the PPV telecasts. While the current deal covers only the 2002 competition, Wade said it could extend to future years, depending on the performance.

The Gravity Games packages come on the heels of In Demand's launch of a multichannel, interactive NASCAR pay-per-view package that allows viewers to view weekly races from several camera angles.

"You can see by the growth of action sports in our culture and on television, it's a growing market and one that matches up well with the PPV demographic," York said.

"This is another step toward building new franchises for the PPV industry, especially ones that appeal to desirable demographics."

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