Creators of the Casino and Gaming Television network are betting that a national interest in gambling will translate into a desire to watch it on TV.
THE NEW NETWORK is scheduled to launch in 2004 as a digital cable and satellite channel with shows such as “Winning Hand,” with poker experts offering tips on the game, and “Dusk ’Til Dawn,” a tour of night spots in Las Vegas, Monaco and other gambling destinations.
The number of Americans who bet represents a vast potential audience, said David Hawk, co-founder and co-chairman.
More than 50 million Americans made more than 300 million visits to casinos last year, Hawk said, citing research conducted for the American Gaming Association.
Other “niche” channels, such as the Golf Channel, have succeeded with a smaller pool to draw from, Hawk said. About 25 million people visited golf courses last year, half the number of casino-goers, he said.
The new channel, being announced Monday, will target the young male crowd, age 21 to 34, which is valuable to advertisers, said Nickolas J. Rhodes, the network’s president and chief executive officer.
Television has been dealing out an increasing number of gambling-themed shows, including Travel Channel’s hit series on the World Poker Tour and the upcoming “Celebrity Poker Showdown” on Bravo.
Still, it remains to be seen whether gambling shows will be successful.
“That’s the ultimate question,” said Bill Carroll, an analyst for Katz Television, a media buying firm. “The marketplace will determine if there really is a need for any of these digital channels that are specially targeted.”
The network, which plans to raise $75 million in operating capital by first quarter 2004, is negotiating carriage deals. The goal is to reach 1 million homes initially and be in at least 20 million homes in four years.
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