Bob Patison, MAVTV Primed For Success

Bob Patison is executive vice president of Lucas Oil and president of of MAVTV, primary sponsors of the Verizon IndyCar Series MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Saturday, June 27.

PATISON

PATISON

MAVTV is a Corona-based entertainment and television production company that airs more than 300 hours of original programming to more than 55 million households nationwide. MAVTV is owned by Lucas Oil.

Patison gave up 15 minutes of his time to answer a few questions.

Question: I heard your building used to be an old lemon juice factory. What can you tell me about its history?

Answer: “The building that we’re in, from the best that we can determine from city records – was built in 1928 and it was a Sunkist citrus processing plant, and they built four of them identical throughout the Inland Empire. One if Fontana, one in Rancho Cucamonga, the other in Ontario, and this was back in the day when the Inland Empire was primarily citrus farming. It was a citrus plant at one time for many, many years and then it went through a series of transformations for various uses. It was an indoor swap meet, it was a place to host rave parties when that craze was going on. It was a steel fabrication shop for a while, and then about 12 years ago, we were looking for a larger location and Forrest Lucas likes a value, he likes a bargain. So he bought this property and it was very, very rough. We bought it for reasonable price and everyone just assumed that we were buying it to tear it down and build something brand new. Well, that’s not the way Forrest operates. He saw the value of the building as it stood. He saw its potential and went in and pretty much rebuilt everything from the ground up. He beautified it with landscaping. He personally oversaw the development of the interior layout of the manufacturing plant, all the valves, all the pumps, all the work stations. He personally was hands-one designing all that. It’s building with some heritage and some history and it suits us quite well. And MAVTV is based in that facility. I think we acquired it in the year 2000, and it took us about a year-and-a-half to renovate it. And we moved in in 2001.”

mavTVlogoQ: What has the void left by the departure of SPEED and Fuel TV meant for MAVTV?

A: “It’s been a great opportunity for us to reach out to service and underserved niche in the market. There’s a lot of people that love motor sports programming. They love racing and with the transformation of SPEED and Fuel TV, they were left without a home. It gave us the opportunity to step up and fill that void, which we’ve done and we’re going to continue to do by producing more race television shows through our own studios. Lucas Oil owns and operates six racing series of our own. We own and operate two race tracks so we’re deeply imbedded into the racing culture but we’re also reaching out to other organizations that are now displaced with no television coverage and bringing them onto our network. You’re going to see a large increase in the number of motorsports programming hours that you’ll see on MAVTV. Live programming is going to become a bigger and bigger part of our network. MAVTV will become the premier destination for motorsports programming and I believe we’ll reach that point in a very short period of time.”

Q: Does MAVTV want to cater to a specific demographic?

A: “We have some top performing shows that were formerly on SPEED moving over such as Stacy David and his show “Gears.” We Dennis Gage and “My Classic Car.” We have “Chopped, Cut, Rebuild,” “Full Custom Garage,” – all former SPEED shows that are moving on to MAVTV. We have Rich Christianson who did “Pinks” and “Pinks: All Out.” He’s producing an original drag-race competition show for MAVTV called “One & Done.” Similar to the “Pinks” and “Pink: All Out” format but with an interesting twist. We’re trying to be something that appeals to the average American working family. With an interest in action and adventure so on Wednesday night we have action and adventure programming. What I call “Non-fiction reality.’ Real people doing real things. We have a group of competitors who are trying to travel the globe on jet skis and they’re making pretty good progress, but literally, they’re going through some of the most dangerous waters in the world on jet skis without support safety craft. The show is aptly titled “Dangerous Waters.” We have another show for people who have a zest for life called “Epic Conditions.” It’s all about these adrenaline junkie, thrill seekers who go throughout the world chasing the biggest waves, skiing down the steepest slopes, and things of that nature. We’re not just motor sports. Tuesday night we have Fight Night. We have MMA exclusive deal with King of the Cage, and that appeals to a broad audience, then we try to round out our programming with quality movies. Old-time classics all the way up to modern-day blockbusters. That rounds out our entertainment package, and I think that accounts for the better demographic, male-to-female. But what we want is for at any time through the course of the day, the entire family can sit down and watch MAVTV, enjoy it and feel comfortable. We don’t anything that pushed the edge of what we consider quality TV. We’re not Disney, we’re not a cartoon network, we’re going after the family that has an interest in adventure programming, and especially that viewer that wants his fix on motor sports.”

Q: What the genesis of MAVTV?

A: “MAVTV goes back a ways to 2008. We started as just an investor in a network. And Lucas Oil, the parent company, we like to be as vertically integrated as we can possibly be. That’s why we got involved in television production studios. That’s why we got involved with owning and operating racing series. We do all our own manufacturing, production of products so we like to be as self-sufficient as possible. We realized that as long as we were dependent on other networks to carry our programming there’s always that element that’s beyond our control. So we got into the TV business in 2008 as an investor to learn more about and to understand what that industry was all about. In 2011, we realized that we needed to secure our position in the media world. We always had a platform to deliver our programming content — our marketing messages — and those of our marketing partners (through) Team Lucas, which is our in-house ad agency. Because we realized how fickle the network television business can be with the ‘What’s popular, what’s not? What stays? What goes?’ And we didn’t like being that vulnerable. So we decided to acquire MAVTV. Take a little better control over our destiny and transform it into a network we can be proud of. That we feel is better suited for our target demographic. And a demographic we felt, quite frankly, was being underserved at the time, and even more so now that SPEED has gone away.”

Q: I read that you’re Forrest Lucas’ personal attorney. Is your specialty media or entertainment law?

A: “Forrest Lucas was my first client when I got out of Law School. This was still when he was running a trucking business before he even started the oil company. A friendship developed over the years. I was a civil litigation trial attorney; A lot of heavy business transactional matters. My undergraduate degrees are in business and economics. I worked in manufacturing before I went into law school so I had some familiarity with manufacturing processes. Television, media? A brand new animal for me. But we decided that we needed to learn it. We needed to build it into something we could be proud of, and I’ve gone through a steep learning curve. But I believe it’s within our means to be successful. Fortunately, we have a very strong following in viewership with motorsports fans. They know Lucas Oil, they know what we’ve done. They like our reputation and our credibility. They like the direction they see MAVTV is going. Having that grass roots support from viewers, I feel confident that we will succeed. We still have a longs way to go, and I’ve got a lot to learn but it’s been interesting and I think we have bright future.”

Q: The network’s recent growth has been exponential (from 22 to 55 million). What‘s the secret?

A: “It’s been staggering. And the thing I’m most proud of is – you’ve got large distributors like Direct TV, Dish (Network) and ComCast, and they dominate most of the households. But you have a significant number of cable providers scattered throughout the country There’s about 200 of them that represent the kind of mom-and-pop cable operators, and they service b, c, and d counties primarily. When we started at MAVTV we had zero independent distributors. Since December of last year, when we really stepped up and start rebranding the network we have 63 today, signed up on the their own volition to carry MAVTV. So from go to zero to 63 in 9-10 months I think speaks a lot to the quality of programming that we’re offering and to the demographic we’re appealing to. That’s the core demographic of Lucas Oil. That’s the backbone of America; the b, c and d counties. We’re resonating with that group. They’ve come to us. They’ve seen our network. They’ve seen our media kits. They’ve become of the consumer demand and quite frankly, consumer demand is what’s driving their action. They have to satisfy their customers. Their customers are asking for motorsports, their customers are asking for MAVTV. That consumer demand is what’s driving their interest. Fortunately, they’ve been satisfied with what they’ve received. And what MAVTV does – we still do things the old-fashioned way. We go out and call on these individual call centers; Even if they don’t have 15,000 households. We’ll go out and train their people so they know what MAVTV is all about. We’ll offer them special promotional packages to educate their consumers and then we follow up. We want to know that we value their business. We want to be with them long-term. They’re not used to that. The large media companies don’t pay attention to them because they’re not big enough. The same business model. The same strategy that built Lucas Oil is what we’re using to build MAVTV, and it’s working the same way. We start at the grass roots level and we work up. It’s a formula that we know works. Quite frankly, it’s the only way we know how to do business. So that’s what we’re doing.”

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