Four action sports channels hit YouTube

As more and more eyeballs focus on the Internet for their action sports fix, YouTube on Tuesday launched a handful of channels promising high-quality, original programming.

During the past few months, most of the anticipatory hype has been lavished upon Tony Hawk's Ride Channel, its producers now tasked with rolling out 22 shows. Teaming up with some of "the best people in the skate industry," Hawk says the channel will cover the gamut, from trick tips and tour clips to music and art.

While Ride will live in the skate world, a spectrum of action sports will fill up the programming schedules of at least three other channels launched Tuesday, including NBC's Alliance of Action Sports (Alli), the Red Bull channel, and Network A, a collaboration between athlete agency Wasserman Media Group and Bedrocket Media Ventures.

"The great thing about the non-lineal format [that YouTube provides], is that you can customize your viewing experience to the things you care about," Bedrocket's Brian Bedol says. The cable industry veteran explained that online entertainment has climbed an accelerated distribution curve during the past few years, growing its viewership and subsequent advertising revenue. He added that action sports programing offers much of what viewers want: exciting short-form stories with a soundtrack.

With that in mind, says Bedol, Network A will focus on two fronts: organizing what's already on YouTube as a one-stop site for fans to see the best in action sports, and producing high-quality, original programs. Network A will be the new online home of Billabong's XXL Global Big Wave Awards, he adds.

"The visibility of YouTube is unparalleled," Wasserman's Circe Wallace told the Sports Business Journal last year when the Google-owned online video platform first announced its channel plans. "We couldn't put something [on a website] with the same profile as YouTube. The talent we work with understand this is a great marketing opportunity for themselves, their sponsors and their own brands."