SBJ/June 23-29, 2014/Media

Back9 gets first distribution deal, with DirecTV

A little more than a year and a half after it formally launched, Back9 Network signed its first distribution deal with DirecTV.

The satellite operator will carry the “golf lifestyle” channel on its digital basic tier, which has nearly 20 million subscribers, starting Sept. 29, network officials said.

Back9 Network executives would not disclose the channel’s license fee or advertising agreements that are part of the long-term deal it signed with DirecTV. But the channel’s top executives clearly are relieved to complete their first carriage deal with a national satellite operator.

CFO Charles Cox handled negotiations for the network; DirecTV chief content officer Dan York handled negotiations for the satellite distributor.

“This has been a long time coming,” said the channel’s president, Carlos Silva, who added that the network is in discussions with all the other big pay-TV providers. “Now we’ll do what any young network has to do: put our heads down and try to get these other deals done.”

DirecTV will launch Back9 Network on channel 262, alongside channels like AMC, A&E, FX and Discovery Health. 

Silva said the channel has no live rights and does not plan to compete for them as they come up. It will launch with 10 prime-time series, as well as live morning, midday and evening shows that will be produced from its Hartford, Conn., studios.

“We’re not in the live sports business,” Silva said. “We own our own programming.”

Planned shows include “The Ahmad Rashad Show,” where the host hangs out with sports and entertainment celebrities; “Ball Hogs,” about people who search ponds and lakes for lost golf balls; and “Golf Treasures,” which follow golf collectors as they try to find golf memorabilia.

All three of these shows will be 30 minutes.

“Nobody’s tapping into this marketplace,” Silva said. “These types of shows have advertising opportunities that don’t exist elsewhere.”

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