The Outdoor Channel, angling to grow as an independent
service without the backing of any big programming empires, has raised $1 million, which
in part will help foot the bill for its distribution drive.
"This will get us over the top," said Andy Dale,
president and chief operating officer of The Outdoor Channel. "This all has to do
with the pace of our growth. We feel we're comfortable now."
Late last year, about the time that then-president
Christopher Forgy left, Outdoor was looking to raise $4 million. But Dale said that the $1
million the network raised is enough to fulfill its immediate needs.
The network is now reaching about 1.8 million cable homes,
up 850,000 subscribers from about a year ago, according to Dale.
"We've about doubled in a year," he said.
The Outdoor Channel, owned by Global Outdoors Inc. and
launched in June 1996, is slowly but surely growing in terms of distribution, getting
coveted analog carriage recently on smaller systems such as TCA Cable TV Inc., Jones
Intercable Inc., Buford Cable TV, Classic Cable, Fanch Communications Inc., Galaxy
Cablevision and MediaCom. Outdoor has also been getting some launches on systems that are
part of the National Cable Television Co-op, Dale said.
The network has also seen some launches through
Tele-Communications Inc.'s Headend in the Sky digital programming service, Dale said,
including some TCI and InterMedia systems, he added.
Outdoor is also in talks with several direct-broadcast
satellite providers, such as EchoStar Communications Inc.'s Dish Network, about
Michael Schwimmer, Dish Network's vice president of
programming, noted that Outdoor is a niche channel that has real appeal for sports
enthusiasts -- and might drive them to DBS -- so it is something he is looking at for his
Outdoor is now in a position to add staff, Dale said. He
just hired a manager of affiliate sales, and other hires are in the works. The
network's employment roster will be hitting 20, from 15 previously.