Media: seeks brand ties

Northern & Shell broadcast arm Portland TV is seeking brand partners for, a digital channel dedicated to interactive gaming.

The channel, which launches on 7 May and will broadcast on the Sky platform, located adjacent to the Sky Sports channels, has secured deals with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to use their games catalogues.

It has appointed brand partnership agency Blend to handle marketing partnerships and advertiser-funded programming opportunities. It is also seeking a dedicated sales house. will show coverage of competitive video-game matches, leagues and tournaments, as well as airing news, reviews and features. Its content will mirror the real sporting world and focus on key events such as the Grand Prix and the Wimbledon tennis championships.

For a monthly subscription of about £9, consumers will be able to take part in professional gaming tournaments, the finals of which will be screened live on the channel. is aiming to sign up 10,000 fee-paying subscribers in its first month of broadcast. Its launch will be promoted across Northern & Shell's press titles, which include the Daily Star and Daily Express, as well as on Sky Sports.

The UK is the world's third-biggest video-games market, behind the US and Japan, and was worth $2.4bn (£1.2bn) in 2005, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

PWC estimates that the online gaming market will grow by 33% year on year in 2007. The launch of Sony's next-generation PlayStation3 console this April is likely to drive growth further.

In Korea champions of virtual sports can earn more in endorsements and prizes than their equivalents in the real sporting world.


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