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UAPL 06 Premiere
By Bill Mills - Jan 2006
Ultimate Arena Paintball screen captures courtesy of the UAPL

The Ultimate Arena Paintball League is getting ready debut its first regular season play on WGN.  The UAPL TV show, which ran in the fall of 2005 on cable and satellite TV superstation WGN was considered a hit by its producers, and among the most popular shows aired on the station.  It drew the audience levels needed, and set the stage for 2006 by educating the station’s viewers about tournament paintball and the Ultimate Arena format.

What followed the initial airing was the creation of the Ultimate Arena Paintball League – a series of 3-man tournaments played in Ultimate Airball Arena cages and shot for TV.

On January 7th, 2006, at 6:00 pm Eastern the UAPL will make its 2006 season premiere, and viewers around the US will get a look at the new 3-man paintball league.  This show marks a few notable changes for tournament paintball on TV.  

The made for TV league is designed with open competition at multiple levels, but the spotlight shines on the 24 pro teams making up the WPL – the World Paintball League.  While some of these teams will have familiar names to paintballers, and others are new, the teams have rosters filled with players known from the NXL, NPPL and PSP – meaning true pro paintballers on the field.  

Six of the league’s tournaments have already been held at the Sports Center of Las Vegas, a venue previously used for televised robot combat and indoor football.  With the UAPL teams going at it on their caged field, the game action was captured and mastered in High Definition video, allowing greater resolution, and more options for later distribution of the shows.  To keep pace with the show’s hectic production schedule, the UAPL's Milt Call and Duke Ellinger created a new editing facility, with four dedicated editing bays and a staff of editors and graphic artists.

From the paintball side, Call is excited that for each of the 6 events held to date, there have been six different winners – something he attributes to solid reffing.  Teams that have been dominating in other pro leagues haven’t yet managed the same feat in the WPL.

From the business side, one other major point is setting Ultimate Arena Paintball apart from previous paintball TV series – it isn’t being paid for by paintball.  Many past paintball forays into television have relied on commercials sold to paintball companies in order to produce the show and buy airtime infomercial style on a cable network for broadcast.  

Usually this means a lower distribution network such as the second channel of a sports network, because the main channels are full with network programming and don’t have airtime for sale.  According to Call, Ultimate Arena Paintball is aired like standard network programming – the Superstation airs the show, making its money from booking commercials in the show, rather than charging its producers.   Being a part of most basic cable and satellite packages, WGN is available in approximately 67 million US homes.

For paintball, the shift from being paintball industry supported to being major advertiser supported is a critical step in the move to grow the game as a spectator sport.  It is a sign that the show is being watched by people other than paintball players, and it means that outside money can feed in to grow tournament paintball, rather than tournament paintball being stuck forever in its self-feeding cycle where paintball tournaments and prizes are all funded ultimately by the player whether directly through entry fees, or indirectly through sponsorship by paintball companies that get their money from the players.

Ultimate Arena Paintball airtimes are now set in place from this Saturday through July second, with a fresh episode every Saturday, so viewers can get set for a full season of 3-man paintball.  Repeat airings of each week’s show are planned for the following Sunday evening.


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