Extreme-sports channel leaving Miami for Palm Beach
By Suzy Valentine
Miami-Dade County is losing an extreme-sports cable channel to Palm Beach County after a series of setbacks.
Epic Sports Channel had been due to launch in August, when it shared facilities with GlobeCast near Miami International Airport. But litigation, hurricanes and environmental concerns delayed plans for almost four months.
"After ESPN came after us to change the name, the hurricanes came week after week and the turtles we had to re-evaluate," said CEO Victoria Davis-LaPorta. "We are now Boca-based, and we're going on-air mid-December."
The first challenge came when ESPN, owner of the X Games brand, brought a trademark lawsuit against the channel, forcing it to change its name this year from X Channel to Epic Sports.
A succession of hurricanes, though not directly hitting Miami-Dade County, suspended trade for parts of August and September.
Even baby turtles played a role when, in July, the station's opening events were delayed by turtle-hatching season. Plans were to include a reception at the Trump Grande Ocean Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, but restrictions were imposed to protect the offsprings' march to the ocean.
Epic now plans to go live Dec. 13 from sites in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. It has parted company with GlobeCast and has teamed with the Colours Network through Olympus CAST. The station will be broadcast on the Crawford satellite out of Atlanta.
"We should give ourselves some leeway, though," said Ms. Davis-LaPorta, "as everything has been slower than anticipated."
The CEO said the delays have worked for the best, allowing the company to fine-tune its strategy.
"We're also going to be broadcasting on the Internet using our own channel in 140 countries including the United States. It's not someone else's distribution," said Ms. Davis-LaPorta.
"It's better for us. Internet broadcasts give everyone a chance to see us. We also have a better relationship with our new distribution partner. We've gone through a lot of changes."
The regrouping has helped the channel widen its possible audience, she said.
"We've got a potential 250 million viewers on the Internet outside this country and 70 million within," said Ms. Davis-LaPorta. "On cable, we have up to 14 million and would like to add 8 million more."
There have also been personal benefits in the relocation, she said. "I live in Boca and I was getting tired of doing the four-hour drive."
Miami-Dade County will host a launch party, though the company hasn't settled on a date.
"The Trump Grande is still doing the event," said Ms. Davis-LaPorta, "but it's looking to see when we can schedule a date."
Epic has about 20 employees, most of them producers, and is looking at working in a Palm Beach County office next year.
The station's target audience is the 24-54 age group and families with a combined income of more than $75,000. Programming will include motorcross, BMX biking, skateboarding and wakeboarding events.