Comcast Corp. might be considering development of an action-sports channel that could compete with Fox Cable Networks Group’s Fuel.
On Dec. 10, the MSO’s Comcast Programming Ventures unit obtained several trademarks for new network brands, including AWE: Air, Water, Earth; A.C.E.: Adventure Competition Entertainment and GO Network.
The nation’s largest MSO, which has said in recent months that it wants to take advantage of its wide reach and launch new cable networks, also trademarked the network brands AWE Network and ACE Network.
AWE is a familiar brand for Comcast. The MSO’s Outdoor Life Network launched an action-sports series in September called AWE (Air, Water, Earth).
Comcast officials declined to comment last week on the trademarks. But one source familiar with Comcast’s thinking said the company “was preserving a number of long-term options.”
The source said that the trademarks Comcast obtained for a possible action-sports network don’t involve its joint venture with Sony Corp. After teaming up to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. last year for $4.9 billion, Comcast and Sony said they would work to develop new cable channels.
Driven in part by the popularity of ESPN’s X Games franchise, which debuted in 1995, extreme sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding — now marketed as “action sports” by programmers — have gained popularity in recent years, as networks attempt to reach younger viewers.
Fox Cable launched Fuel in July 2003, and has looked to draw young men to a programming lineup that includes surfing show Longboard TV and Hardcore Candy, which contains “mini profiles on female action-sports stars.” But Fuel hasn’t yet achieved wide distribution.
Officials at Fox Cable declined to comment last week on Comcast’s move to obtain trademarks relating to the action sports genre.
OLN has added more action sports programs to its schedule, and it acquired the Gravity Games franchise from Octagon Inc. last year. Gravity Games ran previously on NBC.
OLN’s weekly series AWE features skate boarding, kite surfing, base jumpers (people that jump off of bridges or buildings with parachutes), paragliding and BMX riding.
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