Having unveiled its new network positioning at the National
Show in Chicago last month, Outdoor Life Network has announced new summer programming
initiatives that are aimed at fulfilling the strategy embodied in its new advertising tag
line, "Adventure TV."
These include Danger Zone, a new show about extreme
sports hosted by Olympic skiing champion Picabo Street, and a new documentary called Marathon
of the Sands, about a 150-mile footrace across the Sahara Desert.
Danger Zone, a half-hour monthly series, will debut
July 28 at 9 p.m., while Marathon of the Sands premieres Wednesday (July 14) at 10
"Picabo is a photogenic, fun personality, and this
series is built around her personal interests," said Roger Werner, CEO of OLN and its
companion network, Speedvision. "We'll explore the stuff that she, as the guide,
wants to try, which runs the gamut from skydiving, whitewater kayaking and downhill
Marathon of the Sands is part of OLN's production deal
that started a couple of years ago with Outside Television, the production arm of Outside
"Marathon of the Sands is one of the more
extreme kind of sports," Werner said. Fitting nicely into the new emphasis on
adventure, he pointed out that the production crews kept pace with the race and shot it
Werner hopes that the network's new positioning will fuel
additional subscriber growth. The multimedia ad campaign includes off-network and
on-network TV spots, as well as trade and consumer print ads.
When OLN launched in 1995, hunting and fishing -- or the
"traditional field-and-stream" program niche, as it is referred to by Werner --
represented one-half of the network's fare, while the other half was comprised of all
other outdoor adventure-recreation shows.
Over the past year, Werner and his team have shifted the
programming emphasis to 75 percent outdoor adventure and 25 percent field and stream.
"Adventure-sports enthusiasts tend to be younger and
more upscale, while field-and-stream people skew lower-income, older, and male," he
OLN is currently around the 21 million-subscriber mark,
according to Werner. The network -- which has the backing of Comcast Corp., Cox
Communications Inc., Fox/Liberty Networks and MediaOne Group Inc. -- does not plan on
doing any new equity-for-carriage deals, instead relying on more organic strategies, like
providing distinct programming and offering attractive operator incentives.
As for future opportunities with the industry's move toward
digital, Werner is looking at the digital realm as a supplemental revenue stream.
"Our business plan is based on having substantial
analog distribution," he said. "With our significant original-programming
strategy, we need a substantial analog base to survive."
Werner is shooting for 25 million to 30 million analog
subscribers, with digital distribution in addition to that.