Outdoor-Lifestyle Nets Posting Carriage Gains

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WFN: World Fishing Network has made its
first carriage catch in the New York metro area, launching
on Cablevision Systems’ sports tier on Oct. 27.

The bow is the 24-hour fishing lifestyle network’s latest
distribution advance as it joins category players Outdoor
Channel and Sportsman Channel in continuing to
build their subscriber bases via launches in new markets,
upgrades from tier positioning and high-definition
service rollouts.

WFN will be available on Cablevision’s 23-network
iO Sports & Entertainment Pak, which retails for $6.95
per month. Network officials are excited about breaking
through in the nation’s top market and believe WFN will
appeal to ardent anglers in and around Cablevision’s
home base on Long Island.

“Cablevision is not our biggest affiliate deal, but it’s a
symbolic one,” WFN senior vice president of content distribution
Sean Luxton said. “It’s great to be in New York
and I think Cablevision subscribers are going to find WFN
to be a valuable resource in an area where people enjoy
many different kinds of fishing.”

Luxton noted that WFN, which is available to some 30
million homes, has carriage on Comcast in Philadelphia,
but not in northern New Jersey, part of the New York DMA.
The network, which has a fishing license, so to speak, with
Time Warner Cable is now pursuing carriage contracts
with that MSO’s systems and is pushing hard for a pact in
New York.

The deals with those MSOs aside, WFN last month
debuted on Bright House Network’s Sports Pass package.

Sportsman Channel, which now counts some 27 million
subs, hit the target with a number of Comcast markets,
including the cable operator’s home of Philadelphia with
both the standard-definition and HD versions last spring.

HD rollouts ensued in Little Rock, Ark, Chicago,
Charleston, S.C. and Sarasota, Fla. The network’s standard-
def version moved to Comcast’s Digital Preferred
tier, alongside its HD bow in Orlando.

Customers of Dish Network, the charter distributor
for Sportsman’s HD simulcast service in February 2010,
can check out a freeview of the channel, which the No. 2
satellite-TV provider locates on its America’s Top 250 and
Outdoor Sports programming packages, through Nov. 3

September was a good month for Outdoor Channel.
Previously located on RCN’s HD tier, the network’s standard
and HD service became available on the overbuilder’s
Premiere level of service, a migration that added some
90,000 subs in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago
and Washington, D.C. In New England, Outdoor Channel
moved up Comcast’s Digital Preferred tier, where it can
be accessed by Xfinity customers in greater Boston and
Springfield, Mass.; Hartford and New Haven, Conn.; Manchester,
N.H., and Burlington, Vt.

During 2011, Outdoor, which is making its mark internationally
by reaching some 4.5 million homes, was also
quite busy domestically on the HD front, reaching the 10
million home mark in June.

Rob Faris, senior vice president of programming and
production at active sports lifestyle proponent Outside
Television, said the network, which currently counts
some 3 million subscribers in 13 states as part of legacy
deals when it was known as Resort Sports Network,
is nearing a deal with a major operator.

He would not specify the provider or the timing of
the rollout, as the network, which rebranded in June
2010 via a joint venture with Outside magazine, looks
to expand beyond its resort roots in such areas as Myrtle
Beach, S.C.; Vail, Colo.; and The Hamptons, N.Y.