Quiksilver dressing up Union as sports distrib

New venture already has over 300 hours of p'gramming

Quiksilver Entertainment is expanding plans for its Union venture, partnering up with its rivals in the clothing biz to jointly distrib action sports programming on DVD and other forms of distribution.

The Orange County-based clothing giant originally planned on making Union a video-on-demand channel featuring surf, skate, snow, BMX and motocross programming.

While the VOD channel is still in the works, with talks under way with cable operators, Union will now also involve the distribution of videos on DVD, the Internet and on handheld devices, as well as the sponsorship of a theater tour.

New venture’s already built up a library of more than 300 hours of programming, produced not only by Quiksilver and its brands, which include DC Shoes, but also nearly 20 competitors such as Globe Shoes, Rip Curl, 900 Films, Grenade Gloves and Volcom. Quiksilver will provide roughly 10 videos each year.

Profits will be split among contributors of Union’s content.

Five Union DVD titles will bow in October through major retailers to include Blockbuster, Best Buy and Tower. Surf video “Black and White,” a 1991 Quiksilver production starring Kelly Slater, will be one of the first releases. A set of five additional titles will bow several months later. Previously, extreme sports videos had been sold primarily at surf or skate shops.

Los Angeles-based indie and punk music label Epitaph Records, which works with groups Bad Religion, the Offspring and Pennywise, will package and distribute the Union DVDs. In return, Epitaph bands will perform at Quiksilver events.

Meanwhile, Global Media Holdings, of Scottsdale, Ariz., will offer about 30 hours per month of online and VOD content starting this fall.

Quiksilver Entertainment will manage Union’s content and marketing, as well as the national theater tour, in which athletes, musicians and speakers will contribute to a series of mini-festivals taking place at local theaters and school gyms across the country. The Union Theater Tour will commence in the fall. Quiksilver has already tested the idea in Santa Barbara, Newport Beach and San Diego.

Goal of Union is to enable the $12 billion action sports biz to gain wider exposure among mainstream consumers.

“The Union brand will leverage worldwide interest to bring the best and most interesting action sports entertainment properties to enthusiasts everywhere,” said Danny Kwock, prexy of Quiksilver Entertainment. “This is a great way to promote the industry, and we are pleased so many companies are getting involved.”

Because of the involvement of so many of its competitors in the venture, Quiksilver is also looking to operate the company as independently as possible. Kwock and veep Matt Jacobson will oversee Union but plan to hire a staff of execs from the entertainment and apparel biz to run the venture outside the Quiksilver offices.

“We want Union to be its own separate space and live on its own outside of Quiksilver,” Kwock said.

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