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Powdr Enterprises, the sponsorship and events division of the resort company Powdr, has acquired “World of Adventure Sports,” a TV series created by 360 Ventures that tells the stories of climbers, skiers, off-road racers and other risk-takers and their sports.
Sources valued the deal in the low seven figures.
In addition to acquiring the show, Powdr Enterprises signed a new TV agreement with NBC Sports Network that will give “World of Adventure Sports Presented by GoPro” six hours of programming on NBC in 2014 and eight hours of programming in 2015 and 2016. It is a time-buy deal that allows Powdr to have control over 20 commercial units an hour.
Powdr Enterprises President Wade Martin, who joined the company earlier this year, plans to use “World of Adventure Sports” as both a marketing and sales vehicle for Powdr’s nine resorts. The show will feature the resorts in much of its programming, and Powdr Enterprises plans to package “World of Adventure Sports” commercial inventory on NBC with official sponsorships of Powdr that provide category exclusivity at each of Powdr’s resorts, which include Park City Mountain, Copper Mountain and Killington.
“This (‘World of Adventure Sports’ series) helps us nationalize our offering for brands and promote our businesses and properties,” Martin said. “Now as we go into the marketplace and actively seek four to five founding partners, the opportunity moves from a multiresort offering to a property offering that includes our resorts, our TV programming, events at resorts and our digital platform.”
In addition to the time on NBC, “World of Adventure Sports” will have 240 hours of programming on Outside Television, Powdr’s 2-year-old network that is in 40 million homes.
Powdr Enterprises hopes to find four to five sponsors of the series and its resorts. It has priced the sponsorships in the $1 million to $2 million range annually and is focused on filling the beer, beverage, snack food, automotive and outerwear categories.
“This is not an offering for 100 brands,” Martin said, “but for the 30 or so brands that live in this space, it makes a lot of sense.”
Martin first worked with “World of Adventure Sports” when he was president of NBC’s action sports group, Alli Sports. “World of Adventure Sports” was one of five properties for which Alli sold sponsorships and handled TV distribution. He approached the series’ founder, 360 Ventures, about buying “World of Adventure Sports” last summer and closed the deal this fall.
The new, Powdr-owned “World of Adventure Sports” will launch in March. GoPro will continue to be its presenting sponsor.
The UFC will launch a new, subscription-based digital network next month that will include an expanded menu of live “Fight Night” cards from outside North America, as well as live, behind-the-scenes programming from all its events and on-demand availability of original “The Ultimate Fighter” shows developed abroad.
The as-yet-unnamed network’s first scheduled live event is a “Fight Night” card set for Jan. 4 in Singapore headlined by fourth-ranked welterweight Jake Ellenberger against former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine. Another already on tap is a March 8 card from London topped by Alexander Gustafsson, the No. 1 contender at light heavyweight, against unbeaten Jimi Manuwa.
The network, which will reside on its own URL, was driven by the UFC’s rapid overseas expansion. The promoter expects to add 16 to 20 events in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America to its schedule this year. Some of those will air as part of its deal with Fox, but at least a dozen will land on the new digital network.
The backbone of the on-demand programming will be “The Ultimate Fighter” shows developed for telecast in India, China and elsewhere, as well as an array of shows that air on UFC networks launched in Mexico and Brazil.
The UFC has not locked in a pricing model, said UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein, but its current offerings provide a window into what to expect. UFC.com offers “UFC Vault,” an on-demand product that gives fans access to its fight library for about $10 a month. The new network, to be produced by technology provider NeuLion, likely will include a similarly priced on-demand offering, along with a higher-priced option that offers live events.
“We’ve had a robust digital offering for several years with UFC Vault, but what everybody wants to see is live fights,” Epstein said. “We felt this was a unique opportunity to grow our digital offering with the content that is most precious. … If you really want to connect with fans you have to have that stand-alone digital offering that’s not just warmed over content. That’s what’s going to drive a digital network as we go forward.”
The network also eventually will replace UFC.tv as the host site for consumers who stream UFC pay-per-views rather than watching them through traditional cable or satellite services. Those “over the top” sales are more profitable than traditional sales because they eliminate the split with distributors, who typically receive about half the proceeds from each buy.
One of UFC’s signature TV shows — “The Ultimate Fighter” — suffered a 22 percent viewership drop this season, its first on Fox Sports 1.
The series, which wrapped up its 18th season over the weekend, averaged 648,000 viewers this year, down from last year’s 832,000 viewer average on FX.
“I know that people are going to be inclined to focus on the live-plus-same-day number,” he said. “But what we’re trying to do is look at it more the way that Fox Entertainment executives would look at scripted shows and competition reality shows on their prime-time schedules and really take into account viewing beyond just the originally scheduled time period.”
Same-day viewership for “The Ultimate Fighter” is down, but overall consumption of the series is up 8 percent over last year. Through Nov. 21, “The Ultimate Fighter” had attracted 14.844 million viewers this year through 163 airings on the two sports channels plus DVR users. Last year, the series pulled in 13.8 million viewers through 24 airings on FX and DVR users.
Fox Sports and UFC were expecting a drop in the same-day ratings this year, considering that FX is in 8.7 million more homes than Fox Sports 1. FX is in 96.715 million homes, and Fox Sports 1 is in 87.991 million. While same-day viewership is off 22 percent, live-plus-seven-day viewership is down only 10 percent and it showed an increase in its male 18-49 and male 25-54 demos, Mulvihill said.
“This is a learning experience for us,” Mulvihill said. “We’ve had to adjust our thinking in terms of scheduling for basic cable and having 168 hours a week to fill. I look at shows like ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ that might run five times in a 24-hour period. It works. It is perfectly OK for cable networks to run their signature properties as often as they do.”