NBC is getting into action sports.
Red Bull Media House and the NBC Sports Group have entered into a long-term partnership whereby NBC's broadcast and cable channels will air the “Red Bull Signature Series,” a collection of action sports programming, starting in January.
Throughout 2012, NBC and its associated channels will air 35 hours of high-octane events like Red Bull X-Fighters, a global motocross competition, and Red Bull Cold Rush, a three-day skiing event.
“This is a true platform which should progress action sports on TV,” Werner Brell, Managing Director of Red Bull Media House North America, told TheWrap. “This should progress how people in the U.S. view these sports and these athletes.”
Of the 35 hours of programming, 20 of it will air on NBC, while 15 will air on the NBC Sports Network.
Red Bull Media House, based in Austria, launched its North American operations in January, bringing its print magazine — Red Bulletin — with it. It then released a documentary, “The Art of Flight,” earlier this year.
Having already agreed with YouTube to curate the action sports channel, Brell said television is the next logical platform.
The first broadcast will be “Crashed Ice,” a combination of ice hockey, downhill skating and boarder-cross. It will air January 21 on NBC. Here's a video promo of it.
For NBC, this represents another step towards expanding its foothold in sports programming. It has rebranded the Versus Channel as the NBC Sports Network, seeking to compete with the likes of ESPN and Fox Sports.
ESPN airs the most prominent action sports event, the X Games, of which Red Bull is a sponsor. However, Brell said he thinks NBC has shown a new level of interest in sports programming.
“NBC is really expanding their sports strategy and action sports is becoming more and more important,” Brell said. “This will offer a year-round action-sports, live-event TV series.”
In addition to showing the competition, the shows will take viewers behind the scenes so they can get to know some of the biggest stars in BMX, snowboarding and other sports.