A year after initiating a rebrand and moving into a new state-of-the-art production facility in Stamford, Conn., One World Sports is celebrating with the addition of Charter to its growing distribution roster.
As part of a multiyear, multiplatform agreement, the global sports network has been rolled out on the MSO’s international package in Los Angeles, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada and Oregon, with the balance of Charter systems expected to come on board by year-end.
The Charter debut follows the April launch of One World Sports on Verizon FiOS’ TV Extreme and TV Ultimate packages and supplements the carriage pacts it has with Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Dish Network, Google Fiber, Hawaiian Telcom and Mediacom Communications.
The Charter deal will push One World’s base before some 30 million subscribers. That’s 40% expansion from 18 million homes a year ago, and a level that executives believe underlines the value distributors are placing on its content spanning various soccer, cricket, baseball and hockey properties and one that is opening doors with advertisers.
“Charter has a reputation as a disciplined operator and this is further evidence that distributors like our programming strategy, said executive vice president of distribution Randy Brown, the industry veteran who joined CEO Alexander “Sandy” Brown’s (no relation) team in January. “We believe the deal has a tailwind that will give us momentum in concluding deals with other distributors.”
“Charter customers are passionate about sports. As interest in international sports continues to gain popularity, we’re pleased that One World Sports brings Charter fans world-class sporting events like soccer, cricket and even American sports played outside our country,” said Charter senior vice president of programming Allan Singer. “We offer a wide variety of sports to our viewers and One World Sport is a great addition.”
Subscribers to Charter and other affiliates have TV and multiplatform access to some 3,000 live hours on One World, whose properties include club channel programming from top European soccer powers Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Chelsea, and A.C. Milan; the New York Cosmos from the North American Soccer League; the Asian Football Confederation Champions League; the J.League of Japan; the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball; the Chinese Basketball Association; and England’s national cricket team.
As part of additional 500 hours of new programming, One World recently inked a three-season deal with the fledgling Champions Hockey League comprising 44 clubs from 12 European nations. Brown called the circuit, which drops the puck on its inaugural campaign this month, “the UEFA Champions League of hockey,” noting that sport’s profile has been raised by the Olympics and the cross-pollination of players who have skated for both NHL and for European sides. Some 100 Champions Hockey Leagues participants have played in the NHL, according to Brown.
One World is also negotiating toward an expanded renewal pact with Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, after showcasing some of the circuit’s regular-season and playoff and championship round action last spring.
As for the world’s game, Brown believes soccer is ready to soar with the recent competition in Brazil and NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the U.K.’s Barclays Premier League stoking futbol fever.
“If you look at semifinals of the World Cup, there were a lot of players on the teams we cover,” he said. “We show the matches on delay, as well as the press conferences and the behind-the- scenes things going around the clubs. Fans of Chelsea, Arsenal and Bayern can’t get enough."
Brown said the globalization of sports and its appeal to young adults underlines the continuing transformation of the network from one initially aimed at Asian expats -- “a focus that was “too limited to gain carriage” -- to a broader base of properties.
To that end, One World cites research from Frank N. Magid Associates, as well as viewing data that adults 18 to 34 and more broadly the 18-to-49 set have a growing recognition and taste for international competition. “The Census tells you the planet is becoming more multicultural,” said Sandy Brown. “Young people are well-traveled and are interested in sports from around the world.”
He said One World will continue to take “a judicious approach” to adding content, but is looking to expand its presence by securing more properties not only in Europe and Asia, but in Mexico and Latin America.
It is also opening doors closer to home -- on Madison Avenue. Gary Herman, who joined from Tennis Channel in March as executive vice president, said One World has inked Geico as a “founding partner” and the advertising game plan calls to build that group to 10 to 12.
“We’re offering live sports in an environment with fewer pods and sponsors,” Herman said, not to mention low costs. He said that for less than half the cost of one spot in a major sporting event, advertisers could secure 4,000 units on One World.
Western Union and Nutrisystems recently ran schedules on the network via scatter buys that were also used to make ensure that the network’s back-end functioned properly, according to Herman, who expressed confidence that One World “would add five to seven founding partners over the next year.”
The network is also focused on adding more distribution. As was the case with FiOS, the network wants to move from ethnic package positioning to sports tiers and beyond. Randy Brown said its pricing with Charter is structured to incentivize broader distribution, and that it inked the deal with the Stamford, Conn.-headquartered MSO in part as a means to “set the table for others to see us. We’re a sports network.”
The network was well-received by small operators at last month’s Independent Show in Kansas City. “There’s a kinship with that group and their independent heritage, and our appeal as a best in class, low cost alternative to other more established players in the sports arena,” said Randy Brown.
“The operators see there is a credibility to the way we’re going about our business without leverage and bundling,” said Sandy Brown. “They like the way we’re trying to grow organically.”