Outside Television is ready to unveil the first phase of a significant programming push with a quintet of original shows.
The active lifestyle and adventure-sports proponent, created in mid-2010 from Outside magazine and the former Resort Sports Network, will bow a new season of morning staple Outside Today and present news magazine Dispatches, featuring CBS News correspondent Serena Altschul. There’s also a surfing/travelogue entry centering on India, a second campaign with snowboarder Jeremy Jones and the best of the Reel Rock Film Tour.
“We’re entering a pretty aggressive programming phase,” Rob Faris, senior vice president of programming and production for Outside Television, said. “This is the beginning of the development slate we’ve been working on. We want to forge an identity with viewers and online users and distributors to give them reasons to want Outside Television.”
The investment in new programming comes as Outside, which generally targets the 18-to- 54 set, is nearing the completion of its national rollout across Comcast systems.
Positioned on Comcast’s Sports Entertainment Package, which typically retails for $7.95 per month, the independent network since June has rolled out in 13 of 16 of the top distributor’s regions. It has not yet launched in Comcast’s home market of Philadelphia and New Jersey, in Baltimore-Washington, D.C., or in Western Massachusetts, according to Outside officials. Overall, Outside is in 8 million homes.
Based on and working in conjunction with Outside magazine, the half-hour newsmagazine Dispatches will weigh in with Faris calls “meaty pieces” on emerging green initiatives, technology, environment stewardship and personalities spearheading those efforts.
CBS News’s Altschul, whom Faris calls “a network supporter, who knows what we’re looking to do,” will anchor reports and in-depth features, including upcoming stories on Purple Heart recipient and world record skydiver Lee Hunnicutt; a day in the life of twin Mount Everest guides Willie and Damien Benegas; and blind mountain biker Matt Gilman. Faris said the seven-installment series, which is slated to air Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. beginning Nov. 14, will also feature a story on efforts to build a ski resort in Bamian, Afghanistan.
Morning show Outside Today returns with the first of seven installments on Nov. 5 with on-set guests including skydiver and daredevil Felix Baumgartner and America’s most decorated male downhill skier, Daron Ralhves, two of several Red Bull-affiliated athletes. Other guests include acclaimed journalist and documentarian Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and pro snowboarder, liver-transplant survivor and Olympic medalist Chris Klug.
Ethan Zohn, winner of CBS’s Survivor: Africa, is also reconnecting with the network after leaving Outside Today in 2010, following a reoccurrence of his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“This is the first work Ethan has done in 2012 and it’s great to have him back,” Faris said. “He’s going to be a contributor on all of the shows.”
Starting on Nov. 16 at 9:30 p.m., the halfhour Surfing 28 States: India documents a three-month sojourn by Australian surfers and filmmakers Jonno Durrant and Stefan Hunt across the 28 different states comprising modern-day India. Similar to their work the Telluride Film Festival- and X-Dance-recognized Surfing 50 States: USA and Somewhere Near Tapachula, the pair’s adventures introduce viewers to the complexities of India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants, 1,652 languages, and travels across the world’s worst back roads.
Reel Rock comes from Sender Films and Big Up Productions and Emmy-winning adventure filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer. It marries spectacular locales, compelling characters and awardwinning cinematography from the mountain adventure and rock-climbing sectors. It begins in January and will present 9-yearold Ashima Shiraishi, already one of America’s top climbers, and free soloist Alex Honnold, who attempts to traverse more than 7,000 vertical feet of granite without any ropes or support, among others.