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Cablevision ready for Fight Now with launch of channel focusing on mixed martial arts

Cablevision ready for Fight Now with launch of channel focusing on mixed martial arts

By John Ourand, Staff Writer

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Cablevision will launch a new sports channel devoted to mixed martial arts and other combat sports by the end of the month.

The channel, Fight Now TV, will be available on Cablevision’s sports and entertainment tier when it launches at 11 a.m. on May 24. Industry sources say Cablevision’s sports tier has between 100,000-130,000 homes.

Currently, the channel has a deal only with Cablevision, which covers the New York City area. Ironically, New York still has not sanctioned MMA.

Channel executives say they are talking with other distributors, including one of the two satellite distributors. But they expect more deals to come after launch and are willing to accept sports tier carriage.

“At this stage, sports tiers are a reality,” said Mike Garrow, Fight Now TV’s general manager. “We’re going to get the best distribution we can to prove the worth of this channel.”

The channel will include all combat sports — including boxing and wrestling — but will focus on mixed martial arts. Former UFC fighter Randy Couture is a minority shareholder in the channel and will be its spokesman and on-air analyst.

“What Speed is for motorized sports, we’ll be for combat sports,” Garrow said.

Channel Zero is backing Fight Now TV, which will be based in New York City. Channel Zero is an independent Canadian broadcaster that has launched 10 TV channels in Canada, including one called Fight Network.

“There’s a huge void in the U.S.,” Couture said. “Nobody else in this market is doing this stuff.”

The channel’s big programming block will be branded as “Every Night A Different Fight,” which will feature a full, uncut event every night at 10, either live or taped.

It also plans to focus on new programming, including daily shows called “News Hitz,” “MMA Junkies Live” and “Talking boxing with Billy C.”

There is no deal to show UFC fights, but Couture said, “We hope to develop a relationship with UFC.”

Fight Now TV already has scheduled at least four MMA shows, including “American Made MMA,” “Global Impact MMA,” “MMA Vault” and “MMA 2011!”

The channel has no big ad deals, but Garrow said it plans to be creative with advertisers, allowing for a lot of in-shot placements. He said channel officials have talked with companies in the beer, gaming, apparel and movie studio categories.

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