MacKenzie launches Sports Tonight Live

Sports Tonight screenshotLegendary, not to mention controversial, UK media figure Kelvin MacKenzie has launched Sports Tonight Live, a new channel delivered via IPTV on the UK’s Freeview HD platform, and the first to use VisionIPTV’s studio production and IPTV services.

Fronted by Mike Parry, formerly of TalkSport Radio, and comedian Ian Stone, Sports Tonight Live marks an important milestone as the first channel in the UK to be available on the FreeviewHD platform with content delivered via broadband over the internet via an HD set-top box. This enables the programmers to develop a cost-effective channel with a potential reach of more than 5m households this year, and gain total penetration to 26m UK households by 2015. Thus its progress will be keenly watched.

Sports Tonight Live is also the first English language channel to use VisionIPTV’s studio production and internet broadcast playout services. It’s being billed as having a Sky Sports News meets Talksport Radio vibe (translation for non UK readers: Fox News covering football with comedians) and is currently broadcasting a couple of hours per night and, indeed, mainly concentrating on football.

“Sky Sports News is fantastic at what it does but it still leaves a few crumbs on the table for us serfs to try to create a business,” MacKenzie told Broadcast.

John Mills, CEO of Vision IPTV, said: “Kelvin MacKenzie has built a reputation as a broadcaster who likes to tear down barriers, and do things his way. The capability to deliver interactive internet broadcast content, via FreeviewHD, into the living room gives broadcasters such as Kelvin the ability to deliver unique programming and new television experiences to the audience.”

The show’s format encourages live debate from viewers who contact the show via Skype, video-call or Twitter. The digital interactivity can also be extended by the two way nature of the internet broadcast, providing the show’s producers with the capability to poll the audience live for instant reaction from where it counts, the fans sat in front of the TV with their remote. And, presumably, check audience figures…

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