Back9Network, a Hartford-based golf lifestyle channel, has run out of money and suspended operations indefinitely, the company announced Monday.
Their hiatus comes less than five months after the beleaguered state-funded startup finally launched its channel on DirecTV following years of negotiations.
Viewers who flipped to the Back9Network's channel on DirectTV Monday saw the following message: "Back9Network has opted not to continue on DirectTV and is no longer available." The channel was never available on regular cable. The Back9Network's website is still up and running but does not appear to have been updated since last week.
In a statement released through Sullivan & Leshane Public Relations, the company said a search for more money is underway.
"Management and the board of directors are planning next steps and will continue their efforts to secure long-term, operating capital. The company will keep the public informed with any new developments."
Back9 CEO Charles Cox said the company had raised approximately $40 million from 150 investors since 2010, including $5 million in grants and loans from the state of Connecticut, but in recent months the network has shown clear signs of financial distress, cutting its full-time workforce by 35 employees, or about 40 percent in January.
In a statement to Golf.com on Monday, George Norfleet, director of the Connecticut Office of Film, Television and Digital Media, said the state government is in talks with Back9Network executives about repayment of those loans.
"The department is maintaining regular contact with Back9 with regard to its operations, and as of today the company is current on its loan payments," Norfleet said. "Back9 has indicated that they are planning next steps. Once those next steps are announced and understood, the department will evaluate their impact on our agreements and -- if necessary -- take appropriate action to ensure state investments are protected."
The status of Back9Network's remaining 50 employees, many of whom moved to Hartford from out of state to join the company, remains unclear, though some of the network's on-air personalities were already bidding the company farewell.
Appreciate all the messages. As Roy McAvoy famously said in Tin Cup, "you ride her till she bucks ya, or you don't ride at all." — Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) February 23, 2015