MAVTV Eyes Void in ‘Speed’ Lane

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MAVTV is changing programming gears again.

Last July 4, the Lucas Oil Products-owned network rebranded itself as “American Real,” diversifying its programming mix beyond its predominantly male audience and scaling back on motorsports in the process.

Now it’s revving up the autos again, a gambit it says helped strike an affiliate accord for full carriage on DirecTV. MAVTV on June 10 will launch to more than 20 million DirecTV subs on channel 219 — flanked by Golf Channel (218) and NBC Sports Network (220) — and push its subscriber count to 26.5 million on systems with 68 million homes overall.

“The transformation of Speed to Fox Sports 1 as a more general sports network has left a void in the motor sports category,” MAVTV president Bob Patison said. “DirecTV likes our variety of motorsports programming and our new action-based original series.” (For more on the launch of Fox Sports 1, see page 18.)

MAVTV shows grassroots racing and special events on varied surfaces, including Endurocross, Late Model Dirt, Off Road, Red Bull World Rally, Chili Bowl, Pro Pulling League and Drag Boat Racing. Lucas Oil Production Studios supplied about 70 hours of results and highlights programming to Speed annually, and some of that will migrate to MAVTV.

The schedule is predominantly trained on motor sports on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and part of the day on Friday, with King of the Cage mixed martial arts on Wednesday, action movies on Monday and series on Tuesday.

Originals include amateur drag-race competition Won & Done With Rich Christensen (Pinks, Pinks All Out); Dangerous Waters, tracking five jet-skiers as they embark an adventure from Seattle through Alaska and across the Bering Strait to Russia; Catch and Cook, with professional adventurer Aaron Carotta; and Crash Canyon, an animated series about a family living in a van that has plummeted two miles straight down into a canyon.

Patison said MAVTV’s viewer base has evolved: Once almost entirely composed of men 18 to 34, it now skews 55% male and 45% female with a sweet spot of age 29-45, targeting families with active lifestyles. Since December, the service has inked deals with 19 small providers in cable and telco co-operatives. It also secured an upgrade on Dish Network and shifted to expanded basic on Cablevision Systems.

Patison, citing confidentiality agreements, would not discuss MAVTV’s rate cards or deal specifics. He said there are “some initial startup free periods, but our structure is a fee-based model.” Contractual rollouts will boost the subscriber count to 30 million by the end of 2013.

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