Looking to broaden and expand its audience, MAVTV - Movies, Action and Variety is driving a new brand identity and diversifying its programming mix.
Appropriately, the new 'America Real' MAVTV, now fully owned by Lucas Oil, will roll out a new programming slate on July 4, as the service looks to transition from a male-aimed service to one targeting American families. Unlike Discovery's recently launched Destination America (formerly Planet Green), focused on food and travel, MAVTV's revamped fare will focus on high-action adventure series and specials, major movies, concerts and white-knuckle sports, according to Bob Patison, president of the Lucas Oil-owned network.
"MAVTV is looking to reach working class families who reside in New York and California and all points in between. We want MAVTV to resonate with families living active lives, who have interest in sports and the outdoors, or at least learning about them," said network president Bob Patison. "We want to be entertaining, where families can sit down together and find something appealing."
Launched in October 2004 by a quartet of former Showtime executives, MAVTV, which has affiliate deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, Cablevision, Charter, Verizon FiOS, GCI, the NCTC and NRTC, is currently in front of 42 million homes and counts some 6.5 million subscribers, largely through sports tier positioning.
Lucas Oil, which first began funding the male-targeted service in 2008, became the principal shareholder in January 2010 before assuming full ownership control last September.
Patison and Lucas Oil Products president and CEO Forrest Lucas, who noted MAVTV did gain some traction with the industry's push to the high-definition format, said the former management team was essentially out of capital.
"They needed more money to continue to operate and iewership was declining as most of the programming was in reruns," said Patison."Distribution deals were coming up for renewal. If we wanted continued carriage, there had to be improvement."
MAVTV believes that will come in the form of a revamped programming lineup that will place increased emphasis on theatricals. The network, through deals with Sony and Warner Bros and other studios, will air such films as The Natural, Snatch and A Knight's Tale, plus classic titles, starring John Wayne, Jack Nicholson, Boris Karloff and Bruce Lee, from Film Chest.
The service also plans to tune up its musical offerings through "The Les Paul Kids Rock Free Concert Series" from the Fender Center in Corona, Calif. Upcoming shows feature performances by Deana Carter, Max Carl, Paul Rodgers, Lukas Nelson and Merle Haggard.
On the action side of the dial, MAVTV will present Hell on Hooves, a look at professional bull riding, along with The Lucas Motorsports Hour, which showcases episodes of Off Road Racing, Drag Boat, EnduroCross, Dirt Late Model and The Pro-Pulling League.
Overall, motorsports programming will continue to play a significant, if different role on MAVTV. Patison currently pegs that genre as representing up to 30% of the network's schedule, a ratio that will drop to a quarter or a fifth over time. The idea, though, is for Lucas Oil Production Studios, which supplies genre fare to CBS, NBC, Speed and Fuel, to develop exclusive fare for MAVTV. Some of that programming, including Optima Ultra Street Car Challenge, in which amateurs use the latest technology to amp up and street-legalize their rides and then compete in various competitions, are timed to the SEMA Aapex trade Show in Las Vegas this November.
MAVTV will devote its Wednesday nights to mixed martial arts. A talk/preview show at 7 p.m. will serve as a lead-in that will set up two hours of live and current action from the King of The Cage circuit, MAVTV's MMA lineup concludes with Greatest Knockouts, chronicling some of the sport's top moments. "We will now have 52 consecutive weeks of current, original King of The Cage action," said Patison.
Original series Bid America, Hi-Tech Redneck, Catch and Cook, Lynch for Hire, Motorhead Traveler and Crash Canyon, an animated show from The Simpsons co-creator Joel Cohen, will join the lineup this summer. The network will ramp up its roster further come fall.
"MAVTV is looking to hire animators, producers and editors for Lucas Oil Production Studios," said Patison of the facility located at company's headquarters in Corona, Calif.
A trade advertising campaign is set to begin, which will supplement an ongoing grass roots initiative that has seen the MAVTV logo appear on semis hauling Lucas Oil Products, at racing and music events and trade shows. MAVTV billboards are also running on racing shows, produced by Lucas Oil Production Studios, airing on other networks. The network also assembles on-site booths at casinos and arenas hosting MMA events, with sizzle reels generating exposure on jumbotrons in those venues.
Also set to run on the network, starting next month: a series of brand vignettes featuring "real-life Americans, living real lives talking about how they are looking to make a difference," said Patison. Over the first 90 days of the relaunch, there will also be messages from CEO Lucas about the values of MAVTV.
An Internet viral campaign is scheduled to commence in the first part of August, with cross-channel spots set to begin in the fall.
"The grass roots marketing has been ongoing since January. We've been building to the relaunch and then will ramp up again in conjunction with the expanded programming," said Lucas.
MAVTV has retained Marc USA to manage its advertising/marketing re-launch.
Initially, Patison said the network's goal calls for a doubling of its reach within the next 24 months. Through better positioning, MAVTV aspires to build toward a 50 million subscriber base over the next five to seven years and full distribution within a decade.
"MAVTV is committed to improving the quality of its content and marketing and looking to upgrade to basic cable," he said.
Added Lucas: "We're investing a lot of time, money and brainpower. I'd like to move a lot faster."