by MMAWeekly Radio & Jeff Cain
Fight fans in Canada became the luckiest fight fans in North America on Wednesday afternoon when The Fight Network officially launched. The first 24 hour television network dedicated to combative sports hit the Canadian air ways September 21st, and has an eye on moving into the American market. The Fight Network president, Mike Garrow, spoke exclusively to MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio about the network’s debut, the programming, and their future plans to expand outside of Canada.
A television network solely dedicated to combative sports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, could make channel surfing a thing of the past. OK, that may be an overstatement, but it’s possible impact on Mixed Martial Arts, and fighting in general, can not be stated enough. What does it mean for MMA? “I think it’s obviously going to be a pretty significant thing. I think that the support that the MMA community has obviously gotten through it’s mainstream presence on Spike TV in the U.S., and in Canada has helped elevate the brand awareness, but I think that a specialty service like The Fight Network rolling out here first in Canada really will give viewers an understanding of all of the different MMA brands that are available to them.” Mike Garrow told MMAWeekly.
The variety of combat sports to be aired justifies the name, The Fight Network. Garrow commented, “When you talk about what we’re going to be rolling out as far as The Fight Network, we’ve got Pride Fight Championships. We’ve got thirteen events with them that’s going to be airing through May of 2006. We’ve got with BJ Penn and the Rumble on the Rock series that’s going to be coming to Canada on The Fight Network as well. We’ve got TKO from Montreal. We’ve got the Vale Tudo stuff from Brazil, so if you go back with the history of the Vale Tudo stuff, I mean it’s clearly, if you want to get an idea of the evolution, if you will, of the sport of MMA, that’s definitely something to check out.”
He continued, “The Jungle Fight, that’s something we’ve got as well…especially given the fact that it hasn’t been aired before in Canada also lends itself to a great event…And also I wanted to get in there too, the K-1. We’re really, really happy to be working with the folks from K-1, and being able to roll with K-1 to the viewers on an on going basis on the 24 hour channel.”
Along with it’s MMA programming, The Fight Network has a wide range of other fight related programs. Garrow said, “The Fight Network brand, and that’s really what we’re talking about that we’re building out here. The goal of The Fight Network brand is to become the source for media from all platforms, be it television, radio, web, and even publishing for that matter, in terms of combative sports. And when we talk about combative sports, The Fight Network is focused on pro boxing, pro wrestling, and MMA as sort of the three main ones. From there The Fight Network also offers theme related movies, documentaries, and news that we’ll be covering on the service 24 hours a day. In terms of The Fight Network I think we’ve pretty much got all the corners covered so that it’s all encompassing for fight fans.”
If you’re an American fight fan, you’re probably wondering the same thing many are. When will The Fight Network be coming to the United States? Garrow stated, “That has been question that has come in on many, many emails from many, many consumers who have obviously heard of it via the web, or via people up in Canada, or other news source outlets who have covered it even in the main steam press. All I can say is we’re working on it, and that is absolutely one of our goals for us to bring The Fight Network brand into the U.S. marketplace. I think that there’s tremendous potential there…All I can say is we’re working on it, and once we get everything launched, and up and running in Canada, and we’re quite comfortable with everything then absolutely we want to turn our attention to the U.S.”
Mike further commented, “I encourage people to check out www.thefightnetwork.com, and if you go to TheFightNetwork.com I think that viewers will also notice that MMAWeekly is certainly a news contributor to The Fight Network on a daily basis, and clearly we think that MMAWeekly does cover the sport of MMA in such a broad way that it really is beneficial to the network. We obviously are friends at Maxboxing who are helping us in terms of news coverage for the boxing community, and Live Audio Wrestling which takes care of everything in terms of the pro wrestling. We really I think aggregated some pretty good news content partners for www.thefightnetwork.com, but there’s a lot more that people can find out on TheFightNetwork.com about the service, how you would want to inquire about the service, and if you want to be sending us some emails as well. It just helps when we’re positioning ourselves with the American carriers, and letting them know that there is clearly interest south of the border as we say.”
The Fight Network doesn’t just have it’s eye on America, it’s looking across the Atlantic into the European market as well. The Fight Network president said, “We’re going to launch first in the Canadian market place. We are very much looking at the U.S. market place, and the U.K. is definitely something of interest to us, and also other parts of Europe as well.”
If you’re in Canada, contact your cable providers with inquiries for getting The Fight Network. Garrow advised, “The number to call, it’s a toll free number in Canada, if they call this number which is 1-866-396-0003, that will take them into every cable and satellite provider in Canada that we have, and they can just let them know directly that they want to get it on.”