This Saturday night Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud are the championship aspirants for the 2014 Verizon Indy Car Series title at the MAVTV 500 Indy CarWorld Championships.
Its title sponsorship aside, MAVTV will be using the circuit’s culminating race to champion Titan Gilroy, who will star in the network’s upcoming docuseries.
Gilroy, an ex-con who now operates Titan American Manufacturing, a computer numerical-controlled machine shop with contracts for the aeronautics industry, will serve as the grand marshal for the event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
NBCSN’s coverage of the MAVTV 500 begins Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. ET with qualifying, followed by live race coverage on Saturday in primetime at 9 p.m. ET
Heading into this weekend’s finale, viewership of NBCSN’s coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series for 11 races was up[ 35% to 390,000 viewers from 288,000 in 2013 and is on pace to notch the series second-highest average audience on NBCSN since its forebear Versus acquired the series rights in 2006.
The MAVTV 500 Indy CarWorld Championships – its third go-round under this banner, with a new contract extending for additional runs in 2015 and 2016 -- should provide a forum to tout TITAN American Built – which centers on Gilroy and his crew building everything from military and rocket parts to automotive goods at his Titan America in Grass Valley, Calif.
MAVTV president Bob Pattison, said the network, which is owned by Lucas Oil, has ordered 26 one-hour episodes. TITAN is scheduled to touch down on Oct. 24 with a two-hour opener from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., before settling into its Friday 7 p.m. timeslot the following week.
“Titan came to us and we liked his story. He’s a very intense individual,” said Pattison of Gilroy, who grew up poor in Hawaii and became an accomplished amateur boxer. He got into a fight and was charged with the assault of two men.
After serving time, Gilroy moved his family to northern California and he began working for a small machinist business, where he displayed an aptitude for CNC machines. Today, he oversees his own shop.
“TITAN works with high-end metals that few others ply, and he is giving others a chance, by hiring ex-cons,” Pattison said. “It’s so rare that he is working with the aeronautics industry.”
The series fits into MAVTV’s drive toward more automotive-related fare, a path it has traveled in the wake of Speed evolving into the more-general sports service, Fox Sports 1, last August.
To that end, the independent network’s schedule largely comprises varied racing action, including Lucas Oil-titled circuits and automotive reality fare aimed at enthusiasts. Although the "MAVTV American Real" remains the service’s calling card, the network has begun to introduce “MAVTV is Motorsports” and “MAVTV is your motorsports destination” at some events.
“We continue to see opportunities with the conversion of Speed into FS1. MAVTV is a prime destination for fans of race action and automotive reality programming,” Pattison explained.
Officials at the network, which also presents an array of theatricals, report that all of the channel’s top-rated shows for August are auto-related: Full Custom Garage, Hi-Tech Rednecks and Gearz.
The network has also revamped and shifted The Dave Despain Show from Friday to Sunday, where Pattison said “fans are more accustomed to seeing him from his Wind Tunnel days on Speed. It’s still an interview show, but with more action through the inclusion of clips and photos.”
On the distribution front, MAVTV continues to make progress, adding 1 million homes this year to boost its total to 28 million. The channel has launched with 32 members of the National Cable Television Cooperative, lifting its Coop roster to 108.
“We’re doing well with subscribers in B, C and D counties,” said Pattison.
In July, MAVTV launched on Verizon FiOS’s channel 810 and is available to the telco’s video customers on its Ultimate HD and Sports HD packages. The pact also covers video-on-demand, TV Everywhere and mobile video rights.
Pattison said MAVTV, which rolled out with DirecTV last summer, is looking to push up from sports tiers to broader carriage positions.
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