UKTV has signalled its intention to broadcast more live events after its comedy channel Dave snatched up the exclusive rights for the televised broadcast of boxer David Haye’s comeback fight later this month.
Dave will show the bout between former world champion Haye and Australia’s Mark De Mori live from the O2 in London on 16 January. The show will be a two-hour special with highlights from all the day’s boxing and live studio discussions.
The rights acquisition marks a change in direction in Dave’s traditional content offerings which are renowned for reruns of popular comedy shows such as Red Dwarf, Top Gear and Mock the Week. It has also launched a string of successful new shows including Taskmaster, fronted by comedians Greg Davies and Alex Horne, as well as auction show Storage Hunters.
As well as a live broadcast of the fight, Dave will also show a 30-minute special previewing the bout the night before which will feature build-up, the story of the preparation and exclusive interviews.
General manager of Dave, Steve North, said the move was part of its strategy to “increasingly stretch our offering” with content which would “tap into the news agenda”.
North also promised that the channel would put its unique “spin on the event,” while helping to “show the sport in a brand new light.”
UKTV’s director of commissioning, Richard Watsham, said UKTV was quickly establishing itself as “a network able to handle attention grabbing live events.”
He added that its “ambition continues to grow in terms of the variety and quality of our programming and appointment to view TV remains at the top of our wish list”.
British boxer David Haye said he was “delighted” that his first fight back was going to be on Dave and added that he was “determined to make this comeback fight free to everybody” so as many people as possible could watch his comeback.
Haye’s opponent Mark De Mori is a top 10 WBA ranked heavyweight, who boasts a record of 30 wins (26 KOs), and only one defeat, since turning pro in 2004.
UKTV is an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive and accounts for roughly 9 per cent of the British commercial TV market . Dave is the most popular of its eleven brands which also include Gold, Yesterday, Watch and Good Food