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By: Robert Janis

ATV-TV -- 24/7/365 On Everything ATV

Doug Meyer became a producer of ATV Television, a television program about ATVs.
Doug Meyer became a producer of ATV Television, a television program about ATVs.

For Doug Meyer, the road to the creation of a website that would provide video on all things ATV evolved into a three pronged process--familiarizing himself with the ATV community, creating ATV content for broadcast on television, and the discovery of the internet as a source to provide ATV video coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

It All Begins With ATV
For Meyer, the journey that would ultimately bring him to the creation of ATV-TV happened to begin at a time when he and his family experienced a major event--the birth of his daughter in 1992. The expansion of the family was not trouble free. The little girl was six weeks premature and spent 91 days in the infant intensive care unit with multiple life-threatening problems that were undiagnosed until she was 3 years-old. It was then that it was discovered she had a rare genetic defect called Prader-Will Syndrome. Meyer came to understand that life was too short to waste on doing things just for a paycheck. He wanted to focus on something that he loved. “With the birth of my daughter I decided to start doing what I loved rather than just what paid the bills,” he said.

What was his passion? He wanted to publish his own magazine that covered “back country adventures” which included racing dune buggies. He found that starting a magazine was a lot more difficult than he had thought it would be. He had to invest more time and money than he had. Fortunately, about this time or just before, Hot VW’s Magazine had done an article on his interest in dune buggies; and he kept in touch with the editor Mike Sommers. He kept Sommers informed about his attempts to start the magazine. So when it failed, it so happened that VW’s Magazine introduced their own magazine, a little endeavor called Sand Sports. Meyer was hired as a writer.

Product testing a Yamaha Grizzly for one of their many espisodes.
Product testing a Yamaha Grizzly for one of their many espisodes. 

Meyer used the job to discover all he could about ATVs. He developed a friendship with Craig Petersen of ITP, and Petersen informed him of an ATV magazine which was starting up another ATV magazine. Soon Meyer was writing for both ATV magazines covering the sport of ATV. He became familiar with the ATV racing community and learned about the utility including the 4-wheel drive ATVs.

By 1998 Meyer, armed with all sorts of unique knowledge about ATVs, decided it was time to see if he could develop a program on ATVs for a television station. He started shopping the idea among publishers of ATV magazines and others. Although his personal meetings with interested parties didn’t lead to a deal, it was soon known in the market what he wanted to do. As a result the vice president of programming for the Outdoor Channel, Wade Sherman, contacted him and showed interest.

Taking ATV to TV
Meyer understood that he knew the subject of ATVs well enough, but he wasn’t familiar with the business of television. So he explored what it would take to actually produce a television program. “I set out to learn what it would take, one small step at a time,” said Meyer. “I learned about video cameras and editing. I also met a local guy who was learning film and the new ‘digital editing’ in an effort to film wildlife and hunting videos. Together we worked several months to create a pilot episode.”

The pilot was produced and screened for executives at the Outdoor Channel.  They accepted the idea, and Meyer became a producer of ATV Television, a television program about ATVs.

When the UTVs hit the market, Doug Meyer and his crew wasted no time getting one to abuse. 
When the UTVs hit the market, Doug Meyer and his crew wasted no time getting one to abuse. 

His contacts in the ATV community were intrigued with the possibilities and signed on the venture as sponsors. On New Year’s Day 2000 Meyer’s program was first broadcast and episodes were shown three times a week. “From that time on, we aired on The Outdoor Channel continuously three times each week through December, 2006,” said Meyer. “In the meantime we also ran one season of ATV Television SportsEdition in 2004, but lacked enough sponsor support to continue with that program. We also started 4x4TV in 2001which covered the world of four-wheel drive vehicles, and it aired through 2005.”

Always looking toward the future, Meyer figured that the future of providing video was moving to the internet. The executives of The Outdoor Channel figured the same and wanted to retain the rights to Meyer’s ATV show for broadcast on the internet. Meyer blocked the move by taking the show to another network, and he started working on plans to promote subscription-based viewing of ATV television on the computer through the internet and on television. However, his move toward the internet was accelerated when the new television network which was airing his programs went bankrupt. “So we were left without a network on which to air,” said Meyer.

Deciding not to wait, he plunged on to the internet. “Fortunately, we had spent enough time developing the video compression and layout that was best suited to the internet. We just had to educate everyone about where we were, and what we were,” said Meyer.

Behind the scenes in filming for an episode of ATV TV.
Behind the scenes in filming for an episode of ATV TV. 

Adapting to the Internet
The idea of an internet venture is still considered cutting edge so it should not be surprising that Meyer pretty much made the transition from television to the internet on his own. “I’m pretty much ‘hands on,’” he said. “We are very small here.” So far the staff includes Ray Gauger who is the senior editor and an internet techy that was recently hired to help with the actual website.

Meyer noted that at least so far ATV groups have not cooperated with the venture. The idea of television on the internet is still considered to be in its infancy. So there are not many groups, businesses, or individuals involved in ATV that can provide content. “That is our next step,” said Meyer. “Being so new to this area we wanted first to get our programming running and then start setting up categories for everything and everyone, groups, other sites, viewers, and even sponsor specific videos.”

He noted that ATV manufacturers have not yet produced video promotions for their products, but he has requested them. He hopes in the future to be showing videos from the manufacturers which introduce new products and provide product reviews for older products they offer. Meyer also expects the site to be producing its own product reviews. “We’ll do the product reviews as we’ve earned a reputation for honest evaluation,” he said.

He expects to be showing video from ordinary ATV owners and also plans to wait and see what visitors to the site want to see. “There are no time constraints and programming controls,” said Meyer. “This has led us to start categorizing our segments, and we can then add to them based on demand. If we get enough demand for say racing, then we’ll send someone out to cover races only and put them in that category.”

Camping in primitive conditions is part of the program when filming in wilderness areas.
Camping in primitive conditions is part of the program when filming in wilderness areas. 

“Of course, everything in this business is based on finding the money to pay the bills.  So we’ll also have to show the demand to sponsors to pay for the coverage,” he said. When Meyer refers to sponsors, he is referring to companies that advertise on ATV-TV. He said that he is flexible as far as dealing with sponsors is concerned. If, for example, a company wanted to sponsor a particular segment, like racing, that can be arranged.

Also, Meyer asserted that ATV-TV will be controlling the type of videos it shows. “We are very, very (and I mean VERY) careful about what aspect of this sport we show,” he said. “We won’t promote the crude music videos that show inappropriate or dangerous riding, and we won’t show videos of any ATV riders not riding with the proper safety gear or under safe riding conditions.”

We’ve heard the phrase “Video on Demand.” The cable and satellite TV providers like to promote the fact that you as a viewer can watch videos any time you want. But with such features you as the viewer have to settle for what the cable or satellite company is offering as the videos it can play on demand. With a website, you truly get video on demand and the ability to watch what you want to watch. With ATV-TV, that’s videos concerning ATVs. “On demand is a good thing. Think about it. If your refrigerator was running like a television network, you could only get a beer at say 6:00 p.m. and chips at say 9:00 p.m. Also, if you have a TiVo on the fridge, at least you could program it to save your beer until the chips were available. However, God help you, if you wanted a wine, especially a Syrah. You couldn’t afford to buy in to the “fridge time!’

Doug Meyer and crew.
Doug Meyer and crew.

“Imagine, now there is a website where you can log in to watch whatever it is about ATVs that you love,” concluded Meyer, “whether it’s exploring the great back country trails or racing across the sand dunes, checking out the latest products or learning about the newest ATV. Also,  imagine that you could subscribe to these segments so they could be automatically downloaded to your computer as they become available. Then imagine that you could watch them not just on your computer, but also on your wide screen TV or on your iPod. The possibilities are endless.”

Right now you can go to the site and see product reviews, ATV tests, UTV--SxS tests, ATV adventures, specials, ATV & SxS projects, tech talk, ramblings, ATV trail tips, sports ATV tests and sports riding and racing.

Visit www.atvtv.com for all there is on ATV.


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