A few months after landing a $5 million investment from
cable pioneer Amos Hostetter, Resort Sports Network, a Portland, Maine-based niche cable
network and Internet provider, has landed a deal with AT&T Broadband & Internet
Services that it hopes will be the start of something big.
RSN had primarily limited its reach to cable systems in
about 56 summer- and winter-resort areas. But under its deal with AT&T
Broadband's Denver system, it will provide a five-minute recreational-information
segment that will be shown every hour at five minutes before the hour on CNN Headline
According to RSN founder Rory Strunk, the segments, which
will begin in November, will include news and weather information specific to Colorado ski
In addition, RSN will provide similar information on
AT&T Broadband's Web site, including real-time camera views of specific resorts,
up-to-date weather and travel information and opportunities for electronic commerce.
Operators can also make money through two 30-second
advertising spots that will be made available to them during the Headline segments, as
well as from banner ads and logo identification on RSN's Web site.
Strunk said RSN has been testing a beta version of the
service at Time Warner Cable's Portland, Maine, system. He added that the company is
in discussions with AT&T Broadband in San Francisco and MediaOne Group Inc. in Boston
to provide a similar service.
"Part of our strategy is to provide content for Web
sites and broadband content," Strunk said. "This is highly regionalized,
customized content for analog and digital channel insertion. It motivates [customers] to
get the broadband channel."
Strunk said the company is not limiting itself to cable
operators in resort towns, mainly because most major metropolitan areas are fairly close
to recreational areas. "Our focus is to be the source for lifestyle and sports
information," he added.
And though Strunk sees his company eventually cutting deals
on a systemwide basis with major MSOs, he's not trying to rush into things just yet.
"At this stage, we wanted to provide value on the
local level," he said. "From the feedback we've gotten, it's a hit.
The next iteration, we'll give it some time. If we can show incremental revenue
increases [to operators], eventually, they'll see the value in that."
The Internet portion of the deal may end up being the most
lucrative to operators. RSN is one of the most visited outdoor-recreation Web sites
around. Media Metrix Inc. named it the No. 1 winter-sports site, and it gets more than 1
million viewers per month.
The company plans to cross-promote its partners' Web
sites, as well as its Headline segments, on its own Web site, which should, in turn,
increase traffic on the sites of its cable partners.