NEW YORK (April 8, 2009)-SHOWTIME will offer Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans the opportunity to get immersed in the April 11, blockbuster premiere of Strikeforce on SHOWTIME with its new interactive online experience, Strikeforce: All Access, it was announced today by the network’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sports and Event Programming, Ken Hershman. The digital initiative, an interactive live stream of Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz, on Saturday, April 11, further demonstrates the premium network’s commitment to leading the television industry in online, mobile, and interactive content distribution.
Fans can purchase the live webcast simultaneously with the live SHOWTIME telecast beginning at 10 p.m. ET*. Online participants can control their own viewing experience through multiple camera angles with corresponding audio tracks as well as interact with fellow users, view user-generated photos and download select music tracks from the event.
“By and large, the core fight fans watching MMA on SHOWTIME are among the most technologically savvy of all viewers,” said Hershman. “We are proud to offer this enhanced experience to an audience that will embrace the opportunity to control the content and interact with one another during the live show. Strikeforce: All Access puts you in the driver seat.”
Strikeforce: All Access will cost $24.95 per user and is available for review and pre-order by visiting http://strikeforce.sho.com.
With Strikeforce: All Access, fans can be the producer. Users can toggle between five live cameras surrounding the cage with full pause and rewind capabilities. Audio tracks will include the SHOWTIME telecast fight call by Gus Johnson, Mauro Ranallo and Pat Miletich, and the corresponding audio to the selected camera. SHOWTIME is working with BitGravity, Inc. and Episodic, Inc. to enable this unique multi-camera experience.
Fans will be able to make predictions, comment on live fights, discuss outcomes and even talk a little smack with All Access through a live Facebook Connect application.
Other Strikeforce: All Access features will include professional photography from the action in the cage, as well as behind-the-scenes, backstage and fan photos. Images will be uploaded during the live event via Flickr, the popular image and video hosting website and online community.
If users want to own the ring-walk music of their favorite fighter, they can purchase select songs via iTunes directly from links on the site.
“SHOWTIME has led the industry in multi-platform initiatives for years,” said Robert Hayes, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Media for SHOWTIME. “We were the first premium network to offer content on iTunes. We were the first to offer Emmy voters online screenings of SHOWTIME nominees. We partner with over 100 sites when sampling episodes of our original series and SHOWTIME Sports content. And we are the only premium network offering the explosive sport of mixed martial arts.”
“Sports will be one of the big winners with the availability of high quality, scalable and affordable live streaming,” said Chris Turner, VP of Worldwide Sales and Business Development at BitGravity. “SHOWTIME understands that sport fans demand a seamless viewing experience with a quality stream, quick start and no download. We are delighted to work with them to deliver Strikeforce: All Access.”
The April 11 fight card features MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock taking on his newest rival, superstar Nick Diaz in the main event. Female MMA phenom Cris “Cyborg” of Brazil will take on Japan's Hitomi Akano, middleweight contender Scott Smith will face Benji Radach and heavyweights Brett Rogers and “Abongo” Humphrey will square off to round out the show. Plus, Gilbert Melendez will face an opponent to be announced in a lightweight match.
*Telecast airs live at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME (delayed on the West Coast); Strikeforce: All Access will be webcast live at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
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Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, Strikeforce has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of Strikeforce, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose.
About Showtime Networks Inc.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME 2, SHOWTIME SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME, SHOWTIME BEYOND, SHOWTIME NEXT, SHOWTIME WOMEN, SHOWTIME FAMILY ZONE and THE MOVIE CHANNEL XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV.
BitGravity has built the first global content delivery network optimized to deliver affordable video on demand, live broadcasts in standard and high-definition, software applications, Web assets, and interactive applications. BitGravity is based in Burlingame, CA and is privately held, with strategic investment from Allen & Company, Tata Communications and private investors. www.BitGravity.com