MavTV Steers DirecTV Launch with Renewed Motor Sports Focus

After downshifting a bit with motor sports, MavTV is changing programming gears again.

Last July 4, the Lucas Oil Products-owned network rebranded itself as “American Real,” diversifying its programming mix to expand beyond its predominantly male audience, scaling back on its automotive category presentations in the process.

Now it’s revving up the autos again, a gambit it says helped strike an affiliate accord for full carriage on DirecTV. MavTV on June 10 will launch to more than 20 million DirecTV subs on channel 219 – flanked by Golf Channel (218) and NBC Sports Network (220) — and push its subscriber count to 26.5 million on systems with 68 million homes overall.

“The transformation of Speed to Fox Sports 1 as a more general sports network has left a void in the motor sports category. DirecTV likes our variety of motor sports programming and our new action-based original series,” MATV president Bob Patison said.

MavTV shows grassroots racing and special events on varied surfaces, including Endurocross, Late Model Dirt, Off Road, Red Bull World Rally, Chili Bowl, Pro Pulling League and Drag Boat Racing. Lucas Oil Production Studios supplied about 60 hours of programming to Speed annually, some of which will migrate MavTV.

The schedule is predominantly trained on motor sports on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and part of the day on Friday, with King of The Cage mixed martial arts on Wednesday, action movies on Monday and series on Tuesday.

Originals include amateur drag-race competition Won & Done with Rich Christensen (Pinks, Pinks All Out)Dangerous Waters, tracking five jet skiers as they embark an adventure from Seattle through Alaska and across the Bering Strait to Russia; Catch and Cook, with professional adventurer Aaron Carotta, and Crash Canyon, an animated series about a family living in a van that has plummeted two miles straight down into a canyon.

Patison said the viewer base has morphed from almost all guys 18 to 34 to a 55%-male/45%-female skew and a sweet spot of ages 29-45, targeting families with active lifestyles. Since December, the service has inked deals with 19 small providers in cable and telco cooperatives. It has also built its base with an upgrade on Dish Network.

Patison would not discuss MavTV’s rate cards or deal specifics. He said there are “some initial start-up free periods, but our structure is a fee-based model.” Contractual rollouts will boost the subscriber count to 30 million by the end of 2013, he said.