Rebranded Fight Network comes out swinging
Leonard Asper tells MiC about his one-two punch plan to bring mainstream advertising to newly rebranded Fight Network. (With video interview.)
Looking to lure Canadian advertisers with a new and expanded audience, Leonard Asper has rebranded The Fight Network, reintroducing it as FN.
‘Yes, they will see more fights on the channel, but there will also be more shows about the fight community and its stories,’ Asper, the newly installed CEO of FN, told a relaunch party Wednesday night in Toronto, just ahead of the high-profile Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) holding its first event in Toronto Saturday night.
In the last year Asper has moved from losing control of Canwest Global to taking an ownership stake and the controls of the specialty channel devoted to mixed martial arts and other combat sports.
He’s now looking to put some fight in FN’s business plan by combining new digital technologies like social media with blood sports like boxing, kick boxing and MMA fighting, investing in more live event programming, and beefing up the sales and marketing campaigns.
‘Channels are built around communities, and there’s a fight community,’ Asper said of a strategy to enlarge FN’s audience by appealing to high-achieving TV viewers that marketers will want to target because they spend their spare time getting in shape and buying energy drinks and fitness equipment.
Asper said FN’s core demo remains males 18 to 34, but the channel is increasing its female viewership, and moving from beyond hardcore UFC and other mixed martial arts fans to an educated audience that lives a fitness lifestyle.
To get there, FN plans more programming to explain MMA and other combat sports before and after athletes compete in the ring.
FN has also boosted its live event lineup by adding, for example, the European kick-boxing promotion It’s Showtime.
Asper admits buying up Canadian rights to combat sports is expensive, and the channel has only recently bumped up its acquisitions budget after pulling back in 2010.
But more live programming is key to FN’s business plan as the Canadian channel faces increasing competition for local MMA viewers on rival specialty sports channels and mainstream channels like Spike TV.
And with UFC targeting the Canadian market for growth, FN also has to keep pace with local combat sport fans looking to get their TV fix.