Klahr Hopes It’s A MAN’s World

New hunting/fishing/adventure service Maximum Adventure Network has secured carriage on DirecTV’s basic tier. Now, the channel, which soft-launched on the satellite leader on Jan. 30, before officially rolling out last week, is setting its sights on the cable field.

“Our focus is to get things running smoothly over the first six months or so,” said MAN founder and president Michael Klahr, who previously served as the programming executive for a similar service Men’s Outdoors and Recreation Network. “We’ve had some good discussions with cable operators, and we’re optimistic that we could have more carriage in June.”

Owned by Televisual Net Works LLC, Maximum Adventure Network, which relies heavily on independent producers to supply its programming lineup, is positioned on DirecTV’s channel 608.

Deal term-specifics were not disclosed, relative to MAN gaining the run of the DBS leader’s 16.8 million homes. MAN, which does not charge a license fee, allows carriers to share revenue splits from its transactional fare. Klahr, in an interview conducted Friday, said DirecTV did not have an ownership stake in the network “as of today.”

MAN currently offers 16 hours of programming daily, including such show as Relentless Pursuit, in which Tim Wells engages in Midwestern archery hunts, and Best of the West, dedicated to the finest fair chase hunting action. Other shows on MAN’s schedule: Southern Outdoor Experience, Sportsman of North America, TNT Outdoor Adventures, World of Hunting, Whitetail Properties, Wayne Burns Outdoor Allstars, and TV Travel Magazine.

Presently, 90% of its lineup is centered on hunting and fishing, a percentage that will diminish somewhat with the addition of more outdoor fare, exploring the worlds of boating, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheeling.

However, Klahr doesn’t expect to stray too far from the hunting and fishing because he believes those genres give MAN a programming edge over others in the field, notably Versus, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, ESPN and FSN.

“We’re the only network that offers hunting and fishing in the evening, seven days a week,” he said.

Klahr said MAN’s game plan to tap into those communities gives it a wide source of programming material to choose from. First, there was a built-in base of suppliers from his days at Mens Outdoors and Recreation Network, which previously had carriage on DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable, before the MOR’s parent, The Media Group, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer. That move came after EchoStar dropped MOR and its other programming services, as part of what was described as a "systematic scheme" to take its "revenues, profits and assets."

Klahr noted, though, that the “phone’s been ringing every day” since MAN launched at the end of January. “There are a lot of enthusiasts out. People who love to fish and hunt, entrepreneurs who have been able to make a living out of their passion,” he said. “They share their experiences and expertise; that gives MAN credibility, authenticity.”

He said the offerings appeal to enthusiasts of different skill levels. “Our programming doesn’t show people making every shot, or bringing that trophy home every time,” he said. “People can relate and say, That guys like me,’ while still being able to take something away and learn from it.”

Klahr also said the interest in MAN's shows extend to the other gender and children, too.

“ ‘MANkind’ caters not only to men, women and kids. It’s family-oriented programming,” he said. “There are a growing number of husband/wife teams going out hunting and fishing and then they come home and watch this kind of programming with their kids.”

Although the focus for now is mostly on building out the linear services, MAN is also eyeing video-on-demand, streaming and high-definition content.

“Our producers would love the opportunity to get more product out there through VOD and have an additional revenue stream,” said Klahr, noting that as an enthusiast network, “we want to use all bases to touch audiences. Streaming video is something we’re exploring for down the road.”

Similarly, the enhanced format is also on Klahr’s horizon: “HD is something we want to get into relatively quick. We’d love to be there sometime in 2009.”

In the meantime, MAN plans to shore up interactive elements.

“We encourage our producers to build call-in and e-mail response segments into their shows,” Klahr said, explaining that those calling 800-numbers on the screen, can have product catalog sent to their homes.

But  before year-end, Klahr expects that MAN programming will trigger viewer on-screen responses. “We want to utilize DirecTV and other distributors’ interactive capabilities,” he said.