Specialist sports broadcasting in the UK takes a leap forward in October 2000, with the launch of a unique youth-orientated television channel dedicated to extreme sports. Extreme Sports Channel, available free of charge to digital satellite TV subscribers channel, is the world's first 24-7 television channel dedicated to extreme sports and will provide viewers with round the clock coverage of the most radical extreme sports and lifestyles from around the globe. The channel is a 50:50 joint venture between the UK based Extreme Group, the world's leading extreme sports media production and distribution company, and UPCtv, the channel creation and broadcasting arm of European cable giant UPC.
"Extreme sports such as snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding are enjoying the fastest growth for sports in participation - 100% year on year - and viewing worldwide," explains Stephen Cohen of UPCtv, "and appeal particularly to the 15-30 year old market, a group of consumers who are notoriously difficult for advertisers to target accurately. Currently available in 14 countries across mainland Europe, Extreme Sports Channel has already proved a runaway success, and we are confident of building significant audience share among this group during the first three months of broadcasting."
The world's first channel solely devoted to extreme sport and lifestyle, Extreme Sports Channel is cleared for broadband and Internet broadcast, allowing the Extreme brand to reach its target audience across interactive platforms via a dedicated channel internet portal (www.extreme.com). This will eventually allow websurfers access to fully integrated streamed programming round the clock.
"Extreme sports are a way of life for the participants," explains Al Gosling of Extreme International, "and by providing a state of the art web portal we are providing access for the audience round the clock, whatever their particular lifestyle or viewing requirements. The highly specialised programming will include coverage of worldwide competitions, events and championships in a broad range of sports, as well as interviews with and profiles of the key international stars and behind the scenes action, all broadcast in four languages, to maximise involvement and interest for our viewers."
Extreme.com will also be providing visitors with information on how to access Extreme Sports Channel - on the Sky Digital EPG between EuroSport and MTV (422) - as well as more traditional web-content and services, a selection of which will be incorporated into Teletext. The website will also act as a communications port for the World Extreme Games, as well as providing the location for an on-line community for extreme sports enthusiasts, which will encompass entertainment, information and e-commerce services.
"With such a media-aware target audience, it is imperative that Extreme Sports Channel remains at the cutting edge of new developments," continues Gosling. "The close links between the channel and Extreme.com will ensure that, in the medium term, we are well prepared for the provision of truly interactive viewing experiences via convergence as technology advances."
"Extreme sports have influenced not only participants, but viewers worldwide," explains Cohen, "via fashion, music and lifestyle as well as the sports themselves. A niche channel of this nature gives us the chance to supply uniquely targetted programming which accurately fits consumer demand, a formula which has already proved extremely popular across Europe."
"Extreme sports are a unifying influence for youth worldwide," asserts Gosling, "with an image and attitude all of their own. After five years of research and development, we are confident that advertisers will not find a better way to capitalise on the unique access that the new channel launch will provide to their target audiences. We are confident that the benefits will speak for themselves."
THE EXTREME GROUP
The Extreme Group (www.extrememediagroup.com)is a leading global integrated sports entertainment company, formed in 1995 with the aim of supplying the world's broadcasters with quality television programming. Today, Extreme is a fast growing global media group with significant interests in an international television network, an internet business, events business, content and distribution. Extreme has offices in the UK and USA. The Group currently has four divisions, Extreme Sports Channel (global television channel), Extreme.com,(Internet) Extreme International (TelevisionDistribution) and the World Extreme Games (events).
UPCtv, based in Amsterdam, is the channel creation, marketing and distribution arm of United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC). UPCtv offers a bouquet of quality special interest channels to UPC and non-UPC cable and DTH operators throughout Europe. The channels enable networks in Europe to offer their subscribers more choice through quality channels at reasonable prices. In 1999, UPCtv launched six specialist channels, which are distributed in a number of European countries and two more launched this year.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, parent company UPC is one of the most innovative broadband communications companies in Europe, and owns and operates the largest pan-European group of broadband communication networks. UPC provides cable television, telephony, high-speed Internet access and programming services in seventeen countries across Europe and in Israel. As of June 30, 2000, on an aggregate basis (pro-forma for announced acquisitions), UPC's footprint reached 20.9 million franchised homes and 17.8 million homes passed with approximately 9.6 million basic cable subscribers. In addition, UPC systems had 1.9 million residential telephony lines and 356,700 business telephony lines as well as 361,500 residential Internet subscribers and 5,100 business Internet subscribers.
UPC is a consolidated subsidiary of Denver-based UnitedGlobalCom Inc ("United") (NASDAQ: "UCOMA") and Microsoft has an interest of approximately 8.0% in UPC. UPC shares are traded on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange ("UPC") and NASDAQ ("UPCOY").
APPENDIX II: THE TECHNOLOGY
The channel, broadcast under Dutch media law from the UPC Digital Media Centre in Amsterdam, will be supported by advertising and sponsorship.
It is uplinked via the Telstar-12 satellite to Globecast facilities in London, from where it is uplinked onto Astra 2A.
APPENDIX III: OUTLINE MARKETING SUPPORT PACKAGE
Extreme Sports Channel will be launched with a total support package worth £0.5 million, which combines conventional ATL activity with direct contact and other "guerilla" style activity designed to bring the channel into the lives of its target audience.
In addition to cinema and outdoor media, Extreme Sports Channel will use radical images on postcards and intrusive sampling teams to interact with the target 18-25 year old audience. The cinema campaign, planned for early 2001, focuses on blockbuster movies to be launched in the crucial pre-Oscars run-up period, when cinema audiences are traditionally higher than average.
Further marketing activity planned includes branding within a number of licensed computer games, thus providing a direct link into potential viewers' lives.
KEY PERSONNEL: EXTREME SPORTS CHANNEL
Al Gosling is the CEO/ Managing Director of the Extreme Group Ltd, which he founded five years ago. Alistair and the management team still own 100% of the company. He did not attend university but before setting up the Extreme Group in 1995 at 24, Alistair worked in the financial markets 1990-1992, Telecom industry 1992-94 and travelled extensively 1994-96.
The group is presently made up of four divisions with offices in London - UK, Halstead (near Cambridge - Head Office) - UK, Amsterdam - Netherlands and Laguna Beach - California USA.
Extreme International (formerly X-Dream International) was formed in 1995, with the aim of supplying the world's broadcasters with quality extreme sports television programming. Today this company is the world leader in extreme sports television distribution as well as supplying travel & adventure, technology (BSKYBs [ .tv ]) , and nature & wildlife programmes to TV Networks globally.
Simon Oakes was appointed Managing Director of Programming in March 1998, responsible for the programming operations and development activities. From 1994 until joining UPC, Simon independently developed and produced feature films including Single Girls' Diary (Granada Films), The Main of Buttermere (Tribeca and United Artists) and Cave (Working Title and Polygram). From 1989 until 1994, Simon served as Co-chairman of Crossbow Films, a film production company.
Stephen Cohen is Chief Operating Officer of UPCtv. He has been with UPC for five years and successfully launched the compnay's multi-channel programming business in the Czech and Slovak Republics in 1994 where he was responsible for HBO, Max1 and SuperMax.
He was involved in the creation and development of UPC's channels in Spain and UIH's programming business in Australia. Prior to that Stephen was programming manager for Discovery Channel Europe, launch producer for Sky News and launch news editor for Britain's first commercial breakfast channel, Tv-am. His television career began at Granada TV (UK) as a scriptwriter and presenter after eight years as a senior journalist on The Times in London.
Tony Wawryk is Director of Marketing and Sales. He was previously with European Business News as Head of Distribution for Continental Europe and spent six years as Network Development Manager with MTV Europe, focusing on Eastern and Central Europe, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
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