A few days ago I talked with Mr. Andrews Simon regarding HD NET and their coverage of MMA. Andrew really gave me an in-depth look of the company and the direction they are heading. Below is the interview with him and how HD NET is just beginning it's relationship with MMA.
1. When HDNet launched in 2001 were thoughts immediately directed toward bringing MMA coverage into the channel?
HDNet was a pioneer in broadcasting HD content to consumer's homes in 2001.
The WEC became part of HDNet's line-up in early 2004. I believe the network has helped grow the sport as a whole as many of the major organizations and stars have been broadcast on HDNet. WEC, Strikeforce, DREAM, Affliction, K-1, K-1 MAX, Sengoku, MFC, Adrenaline, IFL, XFC, King of the Cage among many others have all been broadcast on the network. I am confident HDNet helped the American audiences learn about Fedor, King Mo, Mousasi, Mayhem, Aoki, Ben Henderson, Dan Hornbuckle, Hioki, Omigawa, and Gilbert Melendez.
So, over the past 6.5 years we have expanded our MMA programming to bring more MMA content to HDNet than any network in the world.
2. How has the ratings been for your MMA shows and what direction do you see MMA in the coming months on HD NET?
We don't have ratings information to share. HDNet will continue to deliver the best MMA content from around the world. In May alone, we will be in 4 countries bringing the best action - MFC from Canada, King of the Cage from USA, K-1 World Grand Prix from Europe and then DREAM live from Japan. What other network will be bringing you 4 live MMA events in one month? On top of that, you will get 4 Inside MMA's and 4 Fighting Words with Mike Straka.
3. Michael Schiavello and Frank Trigg are the two announcers for HDNet Fights. Does their announcing inflict an immediate impact on if people watch your events or not?
All you have to do is look at the comment boards around the web. Michael Schiavello definitely elicits a reaction from MMA fans - most people love him and his enthusiasm. There are some haters, but isn't that great? You want your announcer to elicit reactions and make you feel you are watching something special. I believe Michael and Rogan are the best in the business. Michael elevates the game of those around him - he has been paired with some great fighters to be his "verbal sparring partner" - Trigg, Mayhem and Guy Mezger. All of them will tell you how easy it is to work with Michael and that sometimes they can't even believe what Michael just said. As for our backstage reporter Maria Kanellis - what else can I say other than she might get the most attention everywhere we go!
4. What has been the feedback from fans and viewers on your MMA coverage and what do you think needs adjustments or fine tuning?
I think the fans love that we have branded Friday night as MMA on HDNet. I do believe with all the MMA on TV today, it is hard to keep it all straight...with us, you know you are going to get Inside MMA, Fighting Words with Mike Straka and MMA action on Friday nights. We have become destination viewing for the MMA fan.
As for fine tuning, I think the Japanese shows are the greatest spectacle in the sport, but unfortunately are on at odd hours when we broadcast LIVE from Japan. Also, their pacing for LIVE TV can be awkward with the intermission. I also think the criticism of the Japanese MMA scene is overblown - people say Japanese MMA is dead because only 20,000 people show up to an event or they ONLY got a 15 share. The funny part is UFC or Strikeforce would love to get a 15 share in the US..also, Aoki loses so MMA is dead in Japan. Get over it...Hatsu Hioki, Omigawa and many other Japanese stars would give anyone a run right now. The K-1 scene is awesome - these are the best strikers in the world. So, US fans that seem to clamor for more stand up should give the K-1 Grand Prix a shot..
At the end of the day, there are great fighters from all over the world and HDNet will be there to broadcast their fights. We are not restricted to airing one promotion - our Inside MMA show highlights some of the best regional promotions around the US - Fighting Words gives you a look into MMA personalities like no other show on TV. I am proud of where we are, but I love feedback and any fans with ideas can contact me @andrewhdnet on twitter
Here are some of links to stay in contact not only with Andrew Simon but the HD NET channel as well.