MAVTV Motorsports Network will launch in Canada on Jan. 10, 2017, in partnership with media executive Mike Garrow via a distribution agreement with the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance, which represents 115 or so independent pay-TV providers. The launch date is timed to include the Lucas Oil Products-owned network's biggest event, the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals indoor race, in January. Garrow told Multichannel News he was hopeful a good number of CCSA members will pick up the network at launch and that the network also continues to seek carriage on bigger pay-TV providers in Canada, such as Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco and Videotron.
Over the next several years, the Canadian version of MAVTV will ramp up the Canadian-event portion of the network's schedule to at least 35%, in keeping with content rules in Canada, Garrow said. Original programming on the network that will come over from the U.S. version includes The Dave Despain Show, Full Custom Garage, Stacey David's GearZ and Speed Sport hosted by Ralph Sheheen in partnership with National Speed Sports News. MAVTV's current programming in the United States already includes Canadian events, so the requirement is likely to be met "from the get-go," MAVTV president Bob Patison told MCN today.
The hoped-for Canada launch has been in the works since 2015, as chronicled on MAVTV Canada Facebook page. In a June 2016 post on the Facebook page, Garrow said "the 'slow process' to launch has nothing to do with the channel and its interest with providers" and more to do with the regulations that govern pay-TV providers there. When the Canadian government in 2015 mandated a la carte channel offerings to consumers, pay-TV providers had to re-do existing agreements "for already established channels due to those regulations which -- as you are aware -- can be over 200 services," Garrow noted in the post.
Patison said the regulatory changes -- which led to various "skinny TV packages" launching in Canada this past January -- derailed several promising opportunities before now to sign launch agreements. "It's taken a little longer than we'd hoped but at least we are making progress," he said. "I'm hopeful now that once we get the first one under our belts that we'll land a few more."
Launching via CCSA could work well given MAVTV's grassroots motorsports programming and audience, Patison noted. "NCTC is very good to us here, and it hits the heart of our demographic target. So I believe the same will hold true up in Canada."
"CCSA is excited to provide Canadian motorsport and automotive enthusiasts this unique slate of adrenaline rushing, heart pumping content," Jenny Bosien, CCSA acting president and CEO, said in the network's release. "We look forward to working with Mike and his dedicated team at MAVTV and we are pleased to be able to offer and promote this service to CCSA members across the country."
Patison, in the release, noted: "MAVTV Motorsports Network has been delivering the best grass roots racing content on television for many years, and now our Canadian race fans will be able to enjoy our exciting shows and exclusive events."