Outdoor Channel rang up significant distribution gains last year in both the standard and high-definition formats.
The network, according to Nielsen data, added 4.9 million subscribers in 2009, a 16% gain over 2008, to rank fourth in that measure in ad-supported cable. With rollouts in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Phoenix, Outdoor Channel expanded its subscriber rolls to 34.5 million households, its highest total since becoming Nielsen-rated in 2002.
All told, the service either launched or scored upgrades in 11 of the top 20 DMAs in 2009, according to network officials.
"Our ongoing efforts to get Outdoor Channel carried in homes of avid outdoor fans nationwide resulted in a banner year for expanding our distribution footprint. Distributors are recognizing our value to them and their viewers as the leading outdoor entertainment source," said Outdoor Channel COO Tom Hornish in a statement. "We've also made major inroads with our HD offering by driving increased penetration in key systems. In fact, our goal is to become the first and only 24 hour, seven day a week true HD outdoor cable network by this summer."
Indeed on the HD front, Outdoor counted 235 launches in 2009, augmenting its roster by 2.5 million homes to 4 million total subscribers. Outdoor Channel HD, which remains committed to being available in 100% native HD by July, rolled out in 16 out of the top 20 DMAs a year ago, including New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Tampa, Seattle, Cleveland, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento, Portland, Charlotte, Indianapolis and San Diego.
"Outdoor Channel airs authentic, action-packed hunting, fishing, shooting and adventure content -- the type of programming that can most vividly showcase the benefits of the crisp resolution and richness of HD. It's an important differentiator for our distributors and an increasingly in demand service by our viewers who have come to expect the very best from our top quality, multiplatform brand," said Randy Brown, Outdoor Channel senior vice president, affiliate sales and marketing, in a statement. "Outdoor Channel HD continues to generate substantial interest and we are meeting that demand by increasing production of HD programs, giving our distributors the resources they need to succeed in their markets."