ANAHEIM, Calif.–Dec. 4, 2002–New 24-Hour Digital Service for Echo Boomers Debuts Summer 2003 with Time Warner Cable and DIRECTV as Launch Partners
Fox Cable Networks Group, a wholly owned unit of the Fox Entertainment Group (NYSE:FOX) today announced that it will launch a 24-hour action sports digital programming service for the nation’s more than 80-million strong Echo Boomers generation for summer 2003. The announcement was made at the BroadBand Plus Western Show in Anaheim this morning by Fox Networks Group President and CEO Anthony J. Vinciquerra.
“The nation’s cable and satellite providers have invested a lot of capital into building out digital broadband on behalf of consumers,” Vinciquerra said. “Now is the perfect time to apply Fox’s core action sports and youth culture programming and production competencies toward what is already America’s first digital television generation.”
Vinciquerra also announced that both DIRECTV, the nation’s largest direct broadcast satellite television service, serving more than 11 million digital homes, and Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable television provider and an industry leader in the transition to digital, serving another 13 million homes, will launch the action sports network upon its mid-year debut. DIRECTV will add the action sports service to its Sports Pack package of more than 20 specialty and regional sports networks, and Time Warner Cable will utilize its mix of action sports events, news and magazine programming on its digital sports tier. Additionally, Vinciquerra announced that several other operators including Classic Communications, MTC Cable, Piedmont Cable, Service Electric Cable TV and U.S. Cable have also made commitments to launch the channel upon its summer premiere.
“Kids and teenagers likely to be most attracted to this new network are the most digitally savvy generation of consumers we’ve seen,” said Fred Dressler, Executive Vice President of Programming at Time Warner Cable. “”We believe the addition of this programming will further enhance our digital sports tier of service.”
“Fox has a history of innovation and success and the way that Fox Sports has upped the personal challenge, drama and raw emotion of sports has helped to influence what this new generation demands of themselves and of their televisions,” added Michael Thornton, Senior Vice President, Programming Acquisitions for DIRECTV. “With its unrivaled lineup of sport programming, DIRECTV has established itself as the foremost destination for sports fans. We’re excited to be part of what we expect to become a vibrant programming opportunity.”
The new service will feature original and acquired sports events and magazine programs covering emerging competition ranging from skateboarding to surfing, wakeboarding, BMX, motocross, snowboarding and other key action sports.
Fox will launch the new action sports service in summer 2003 with plans for more than 1,000 hours of exclusive programming in its first year, bolstered by cross-promotional and marketing support across Fox Cable’s Fox Sports Net; 13 owned and operated regional sports networks; SPEED Channel; Fox Sports World; Fox Sports en Espanol; FX and FOX Broadcasting Co.’s FOX Sports programs. Fox Sports Net is already home to the successful action sports series “Bluetorch” and “Rush Hour” and the upcoming nightly action sports news program “54321,” and several of its regional sports networks were pioneers in the action sports arena.
Fox has also entered into new marketing partnerships with top agencies and advertisers interested in building brand sampling and loyalties amid the often-elusive Echo Boomers in key product categories. These range from producers and distributors of video games to motion pictures and entertainment, telecommunications, quick service restaurants, soft drinks, athletic shoes, automotive and armed services recruitment.
According to U.S. Census statistics, persons born between 1977 annd 1997 – typically known as Echo Boomers or Generation Y – make up the single largest group of American teenagers in history, and will come to represent more than 41 percent of U.S. population within the next decade. That’s three times the size of their predecessor, Generation X. With more than $172 billion in direct purchasing power, that group is already redefining economic and cultural trends, especially among digital services like console gaming, large-screen format film, digital music archiving and transaction, mobile telephony, desktop audio and video publishing and other telecommunications and entertainment. For instance, their support has helped to boost an infant interactive gaming and console industry from a less than $3 billion market segment in 1995 to an estimated $13 billion enterprise– and growing — by the end of this year.
Given that particular audience’s digital savvy Fox Cable also expects to work with partnered cable, satellite and other digital providers to further extend its action sports concept and future community into several other video-on-demand, mobile and interactive service extensions.
Fox Cable Networks Group, a wholly owned division of Fox Entertainment Group (NYSE:FOX), includes the more than 25 major domestic cable and satellite networks in which Fox Entertainment Group or News Corporation (NYSE:NWS) hold interests. Launched less than eight years ago in 1994, this collection of networks now reach more than 275 million subscribing television households, and represent one of the media industry’s largest and most diverse portfolios of major programming assets. They include the nation’s fastest-growing network of 2002, the National Geographic Channel; the nation’s fastest-growing network of 2001, FX; Fox Sports Net and its 13 owned and operated regional networks; Speed Channel; Fox Sports World; Fox Sports en Espanol; Fox Movie Channel; and the new Action sports network announced this morning.
DIRECTV is the nation’s leading digital satellite television service provider with more than 11 million customers. DIRECTV and Cyclone Design logo are trademarks of DIRECTV, Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation. HUGHES is a world-leading provider of digital television entertainment, broadband services, satellite-based private business networks and global video and data broadcasting. The earnings of HUGHES, a unit of General Motors Corporation, are used to calculate the earnings attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock (NYSE:GMH). Visit DIRECTV on the World Wide Web at www.DIRECTV.com.
A pioneer in the cable industry, Time Warner Cable owns and manages the most advanced, best-clustered cable television operations in the country, with over 90% of its approximately 13 million customers in systems serving 100,000 people or more. Through technological innovation, a fully upgraded fiber-based network and a commitment to increasing choice and value for its customers, Time Warner Cable brings the digital age into America’s communities and is transforming the way Americans receive information and entertainment.