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Outdoor Sports Video Is Much in Demand

10/24/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Whether the content is national or local,
or functions as sampling mechanism or marketing tool, videoon-
demand content plays an integral role for networks targeting
those who enjoy hunting, fishing and the great outdoors.

Versus, Comcast’s national sports cable channel, which will
be rechristened the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2, will continue
to maintain its schedule of field sports when the changeover
occurs.

“We have a continuing dedication to bring our viewers the
best programming in outdoor television,” Jeff Macaluso, director,
field sports and new media, programming and production,
said. “Field sports is important to the network and as we transition
into the NBC Sports Network, we will continue to add
quality programs to the schedule.”

CATEGORY LEADERS

VOD will still be part of that mix, and with good reason: The
outdoor sports category is by far Versus’s top platform performer,
accounting for 73% of views. That performance has been
attained even though the network makes National Hockey
League, bull riding, mixed martial arts, Tour de France cycling
and auto and horse racing content available.

Sportsman Channel, which provides VOD content to a
number of cable operators, began supplying DirecTV Cinema
with an array of content, including platform exclusive
product, in August. (For more with Sportsman CEO Gavin
Harvey, see Viewpoint.)

Refreshed every two weeks, Sportsman’s VOD offering comprises
seasonal and regional content consisting
of short-form and long-form content from
the linear channel, plus original productions.

The network has also pushed its toe in the
local VOD-content waters. For example, it recently
released “Fishing with the Falcons,”
an exclusive segment with the National Football
League’s Atlanta Falcons paying tribute
to America’s wounded military, for Comcast’s
Xfinity on Demand in that market.

Outdoor Channel also ramped up its national
VOD reach this spring through an
agreement to supply content to DirecTV Cinema
on channel 1606. In September, Outdoor
began supplying hunting, fishing and other
adventure fare to Verizon Wireless customers.
Full episodes from the following series are
available on Verizon Video: Hunt Masters, Jim
Shockey’s Hunting Adventures, Jim Zumbo Outdoors,
Primos Truth About Hunting, Shooting Gallery, Shooting
USA, The Crush with Lee & Tiffany and Ultimate Match Fishing:
All-Stars.


All told, Outdoor said it averages 20 hours of VOD fare
each month, which is 100% refreshed with the change of
the calendar.

“Video-on-demand represents an extension of
our broader Outdoor Channel brand strategy — one that
includes OutdoorChannel.com and the Outdoor Channel
App, which allow us to deliver a rich, multiscreen experience
to our valued audience, whether they’re on the go or
in the field,” Randy Brown, the network’s executive vice
president of affiliate sales and marketing, said.

“While Outdoor Channel’s Nielsen-rated linear network
remains the core business focus, we look to on-demand to
not only drive greater access to our extensive lineup, but also
to share a compelling programming sampling with viewers
that creates a pathway back to the linear network.”

Sampling is a key VOD hook for World Fishing Network
as well. “The platform gives subscribers an opportunity
to see shows again, or sample them, if they don’t have
DVRs and missed them,” WFN senior vice president of content distribution Sean Luxton said.

At the same time, WFN — which offers 10
hours of national VOD content each month,
half of which is refreshed — is careful not
to make too much product available on the
platform. WFN VOD fare is available on Dish
Network, as well as Dishonline.net. With
Comcast, content has not yet been cast on
linear TV, but rather on XfinityTV.com.

“Like Scripps, we’re looking to help build
our brand through projects with strong associations
to the host, so we mainly offer originals”
like Getting School’d with JP DeRose and
Reel Road Trip With Mark Melnyk, he said.
“We want to give subscribers a taste, but not
enough to sate them. We want them to watch
the network.”

WFN is also keeping its line in the water for
local VOD and potential distribution hits.

“We think there are opportunities for such
programming, especially in areas where we do
a lot of shooting,” Luxton said, noting his network
isn’t on a highly-distributed tier. “[WFN
wants] to raise awareness and help affiliates
market their sports tiers. We think local VOD is
a way to help drive attention to these packages.”

To that end, Luxton believes WFN ambassadors,
locals who blog about where the fish are
biting and on what, can raise the network’s profile alongside their own, via area associations.

Similarly, Luxton said WFN is talking to
Time Warner Cable and Charter about a spade
fishing segment that was re-edited from footage
shot off the coast of South Carolina.

“Every golfer aspires to play at Pebble Beach
and all anglers want to bone fish in Costa Rica,
but most of the time people play or fish locally
within a couple of hours of where they live,” he
said. “This is something people could watch
and say: ‘Let’s go.’ ”

SOUGHT BY PROVIDERS

Outside Television is also looking to go with
the sub-genre. Rob Faris, senior vice president
of programming and production at active
sports lifestyle proponent Outside Television,
said VOD provides challenges, relative to cost,
but could provide distribution opportunities
and benefits.

“We’re cognizant as we go through new development
to create specific content for VOD
and TV Everywhere platforms. It’s certainly
on our production checklist,” he said, noting
VOD has come up in many of the distribution
meetings Outside Television has held with
prospective providers. “Local VOD is not on
everyone’s agenda, but I think we’re better
suited to do it than some other networks.”

Since Outside Television is a lifestyleoriented
network, not focused on covering
events or competitions per se, it wants to tell
stories.

“I think we’re uniquely positioned to
profile an athlete who lives [in a distributor’s
service] area,” Faris explained. “Or
we can take a deep look at some beautiful
spot, or resort, which might not play so
well in a national telecast.”

WHAT’S COMING UP ON OUTDOOR NETWORKS

A LOOK AT SOME UPCOMING SHOWS PROGRAMMERS IN THIS REPORT ARE HIGHLIGHTING:

OUTDOOR CHANNEL

Ultimate Match Fishing Presented by
Sta-Bill:
This single-elimination tournament
pits 12 pro bass anglers against
each other — in the same boat. Tom Mann
Jr., Brian Thrift, Bradley Roy and Scott
Suggs are among those trying to hook the
Ultimate Match Fishing crown and $50K.

Hot Rods & Reels: In this special,
(Nov. 19 and 26) NASCAR drivers Darrell
Waltrip, Clint Bower, Ryan Newman, Dave
Blaney, Richard Childress and 2010 Daytona
500 winner Jamie McMurray team
with everyday anglers to net the biggest
fish at charity tourneys.

OUTSIDE TELEVISION

Outside Today: Hosts Ethan Zohn and
Julia Dimon, along with the editors at
Outside magazine, serve up a variety of
features, interviews, weather conditions
and equipment news with seven new onehour
installments, beginning in November.

Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride:
Hosts Lynsey Dyer and David LaHuta
provide access to festival directors
and stars. The network will air 16 new
90-minute segments, featuring fi lms and
interviews, in November.

SPORTSMAN CHANNEL

Beau Knows Outdoors: Beau Turner,
the son of CNN founder and philanthropist
Ted Turner, hosts a program focusing not
only on world-class hunting and fishing,
but land conservation and management
issues as he oversees Turner Enterprises’
more than 2 million acres.

The Bear Whisperer: Three years in production,
Blaine Anthony, starting in the spring
season, takes viewers through an entire year
of bear education, conservation and hunting,
focusing on calling, spot and stalk among
other techniques. The network has ordered
13 installments.

VERSUS

City Limits Fishing: Professional angler
Mike Iaconelli, who spends 200 days annually
on the water for this series, faces a challenge.
He must catch a limit of fish within a
limited amount of time — entirely within the
boundaries of some of the nation’s top cities.

Gun It with Benny Spies: Where many
genre shows follow hunts on elite ranches
and preserves, Spies takes a different
route, traveling the country in his 1973
Winnebago and hunting with friends,
family, strangers and just about anyone
who enjoys the outdoors.

WORLD FISHING NETWORK

Hookin’ Up With Mariko Izumi: With
her rod, reel and bikini, the host returns
for her fourth campaign, starting with a
three-part episode where she experiences
what Alaska has to offer in the water —
shrimping, crabbing, salmon fishing — and
off-shore.

Professional Tarpon Tournament
Series:
Hosted by Joe Mercurio, this competition
series provides beautiful vistas
where world-class fishermen get to showcase
their talents in Boca Grande Pass.

September