Extreme Sports Net Eyes a U.S. Launch

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London-based Extreme Group plans to bring a 24-hour version of its Extreme Sports Channel to the United States by the fourth quarter, said CEO Al Gosling.

Interest in the channel has picked up since the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where NBC gave new sports like half-pipe snowboarding primetime exposure, Gosling said.

The company — which distributes its channel overseas in seven languages to 10.5 million subscribers in 48 countries — has talked to diginet incubator TviFusion and "a number of large media companies and cable operators" about taking an equity stake in the U.S. channel, Gosling said.

TviFusion's exclusive negotiating window expired at the end of the year, but the company is still in the running, Gosling said. A second source confirmed the TviFusion talks.

Another possible partner is Fox Cable Networks Group. Extreme Group recently cut a deal with Fox Sports Net to carry about five hours of Extreme programming each week on FSN's regional sports networks.

One source said Fox has had preliminary talks with Extreme Group about a partnership in the U.S. channel.

Extreme would fit well with Fox Cable's portfolio, which includes Speed Channel and its Fox Sports Digital Networks package.

ESPN spokesman Chris LaPlaca said the company isn't talking with Extreme Group, but said the network is interested in what it prefers to call "action sports."

ESPN has considered launching its own action-sports diginet. "It's something we might consider doing in the future," LaPlaca said.

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