Back9Network Reaches Carriage Deal With DirecTV, Will Launch Sept. 29 On Digital Basic
Back9Network yesterday announced its first TV carriage agreement, a multiyear deal with DirecTV to distribute the golf lifestyle network. Back9Network will launch on Sept. 29, with nearly 1,100 hours of original programming in its first year, including 10 original primetime series. The Back9Network TV and digital studios will be based in downtown Hartford in August and will be fully operational for the launch (Back9Network). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's John Ourand noted DirecTV will launch the net "on its digital basic tier, which has nearly 20 million subscribers." Back9Network will be "alongside channels like AMC, A&E, FX and Discovery Health." Back9Network CFO Charles Cox "handled negotiations for the network," while DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York "handled negotiations for the satellite distributor." Back9Network President Carlos Silva noted the channel "has no live rights and does not plan to compete for them as they come up." Silva said, "We're not in the live sports business" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/23 issue).
STYLIN' & PROFILIN': GOLF DIGEST's Peter Finch noted Back9Network programming until now had "appeared only online and in Swing by Swing, a golf GPS smartphone app it acquired earlier this year." Silva said of the new channel, "There will be four hours of live studio shows a day. There will be shows in around the golf lifestyle: food, fashion, autos, travel destinations. ... The three shows that we’ve talked about for the launch are 'The Ahmad Rashad Show,' a show called 'Ball Hog,' which is about a company that actually dives into the ponds or lakes at golf courses and reclaims golf balls as a business, and another show called 'Golf Treasures,' which is a couple of guys who have an auction house that is in the business of acquiring historical golf artifacts." He added, "The great thing about DirecTV is they have national coverage, so the advertisers that come will have [a] national footprint. That gives us the opportunity to go look at the other satellite operators, the telcos like AT&T and Fios, as well as the regional cable operators, to go do the second- and third- and fourth-year deals" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/23). In Hartford, Dan Haar reports Back9Network has raised about $30M, including "a controversial state package" of $5M. Although Back9Network Founder & CEO Jamie Bosworth and others at the net had said that they "could make it work with an online audience only, a national TV contract was widely seen as the sole route to success" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/24).