SBJ/July 23 - 29, 2007/This Weeks News

New TV show details life in the garage

Leverage Sports, a Charlotte-based motorsports agency, has created a NASCAR-themed television show that examines life inside the garage and targets the hard-core race fan.

“Three Wide Life” will undergo one phase of distribution in September for the fall season with a full launch scheduled for early 2008. MGM Studios will distribute the show and sell sponsorships in tandem with Leverage. Production is being handled in-house at Leverage.

Syndication is expected to reach 70 percent of the nation’s markets this fall — 85 percent next year — and will focus on network affiliates, said Ryan Kurek, Leverage’s CEO and founder. Kurek called the network channels underserved with motorsports programming because so much of it goes on cable with Speed and ESPN’s networks.

Steve Pruett, Leverage’s president, owns about 30 network stations throughout the United States, something that will give the documentary-style show an initial distribution bump. Fox and ABC channels in a market will usually get first look at the show because those networks own NASCAR broadcast rights and local channels can use “Three Wide Life” as run-up programming to race broadcasts.

Twenty-six episodes are scheduled for next year. Sponsorships are being sold for title and associate positions, as well as show and Web integration.

Kurek said he and Pruett began discussing the concept of a motorsports show nearly three years ago. They  polled fans at NASCAR races about what would appeal to them in a TV show. Most said they wanted inside-the-garage stories about the race cars and the people who work on them. The show’s setting usually will be a team’s shop, and NASCAR’s midlevel Nextel Cup teams, such as Bill Davis Racing and Haas CNC Racing, will typically be the subjects.

The chief competition for “Three Wide Life” figures to be “NASCAR Angels,” a NASCAR production that also targets network affiliates nationally, although the content is different.

In its first season, “NASCAR Angels” reached 90 percent of the nation’s markets (100 million households), NASCAR said, and was carried by ABC affiliates in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Taping has begun for a second season in 2008.

“Three Wide Life” does not have a NASCAR license and must refer to itself as a motorsports program, not a NASCAR program, even though most of its content will be NASCAR-based.

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