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Aquahelix
7/04/2006 7:57pm,
Have any of you guys heard about The Fight Network?

It's a canadian channel that's about....fighting.

Anyway, they have been growing huge recently and plan on getting on some USA satalite and cable providers later this year. This will be huge since MMA is growing rapidly. If you want to invest in this and hopefully earn a ton of cash, the stock symbol is BKMP. It's been getting a lot of action lately:


Network fighting to the top
Once the underdog, The Fight Network is now the most-watch digital sports channel in Canada
Jul. 6, 2006. 01:00 AM
CHRIS ZELKOVICH


When The Fight Network launched last September, more than a few people in the TV business wondered if its owners hadn't taken a few blows to the head themselves.

How could a digital channel that had only six employees and no studio expect to compete against the giants of Canadian broadcasting?

Less than a year later, no one is asking that question any more. The Fight Network is giving more shots than it's taking and last month rose to the top of the digital sports channels heap.

Granted, that's a small heap. It outdrew all other digital sports channels by attracting an average of 3,500 viewers a minute.

While that pales in comparison to conventional and specialty channels, it was almost double the next most-watched digital sports channel, Fox Sports World Canada, which averaged 1,900 viewers.

But when the other channels are owned by the likes of CanWest Global, CTV and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, that's no TKO.

"In many ways we knew a lot of this was going to happen," says TFN president Mike Garrow. "Our business plan is coming true, but in some areas this has been accelerated way beyond what we expected."

In fact, the channel is so confident that it is planning to expand to the U.S., Britain and Australia. It recently signed a deal to supply headlines and updates to Verizon, Sprint and Cingular cellphone users in the U.S.

It has also hired an agent in hopes of getting American distribution.

After launching as part of a Rogers free preview, the channel finds itself on 14 cable or satellite systems with more to come. The original six employees has grown to 25 full-time and eight part-time. The channel is also moving into a 14,000-square-foot office space, its first home.

``When we started we used to meet at Timothy's near Eglinton and Yonge," says Garrow. ``We were so small we could have met in a phone booth."

The secret to the channel's success has been airing exclusive events, which is what programming head Brian Sobie has concentrated on. Though sports like kickboxing and Japanese wrestling have a small following compared with mainstream sports, most will be watching if this is the only place to see it.

``We offer things that people can't get anywhere else," says Garrow.

That explains why a recent airing of a Japanese series called Pride Fighting attracted 45,600 viewers a huge audience for a digital channel. In fact, some Maple Leafs games on Leafs TV barely surpassed that last winter.

The other factor has been the phenomenal growth of mixed martial arts, which features a mix of judo, jujitsu, karate, boxing and wrestling with no apparent rules. It's been called human cock-fighting by some.

It has given a shot in the arm to the Spike channel, whose Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) series has averaged more than 2 million viewers and is Spike's top draw among young males. It has drawn larger audiences than the NBA from that hard-to-reach demographic.

The Fight Network doesn't carry the no-holds-barred ultimate fighter matches, but has mixed martial arts from around the world. It also supplies pre- and post-match Ultimate Fighter coverage surrounding the Spike bouts.

"UFC has done a great job of promoting mixed martial arts and that's helped raise awareness of the sport," says Garrow. "It appeals to young men, who love the fact that the athletes have to have multiple skill sets, from Muay Thai kickboxing to Greco-Roman wrestling."

It also doesn't hurt that a series of UFC video games have primed young audiences for the all-out violence.

While the channel hasn't come close to making a profit yet, Garrow says that's not far off, thanks in part to keeping costs at a minimum. After all, rights to Amazon wrestling don't cost quite as much as NHL rights.

But the channel is only part of the operation. In addition to the cellular deals, The Fight Network website is selling a clothing line, fight gear, memorabilia and pay-per-view events. More is planned.

"We want to be the one-stop shopping place for fight fans," says Garrow.
Additional articles by Chris Zelkovich

Steve
7/04/2006 8:42pm,
If I only had some money.