After teasing its new identity over the past month, Sportsman Channel at 6 a.m. officially took the wraps off a fresh moniker and look, more reflective of where the service is today.
Now found on-air, online and its other communications, the new image, sporting a dramatically different logo and channel bug, is a modern illustration of a trio of "coins" depicting its dedication to hunting (a deer with antlers) shooting (a target) and fishing (a fish swimming) enthusiasts.
The new image replaces the red-boxed logo the company has had since its inception in 2003. The coins have become the main feature of the new logo and on-air channel bug, each representing a different color and icon to give the viewer an immediate point of reference and to identify the programming genre coming up next, according to network officials.
Concurrently, Sportsman, now counting some 17 million subscribers through recent deals with DirecTV and Bright House Networks, has dropped "The" to become Sportsman Channel.
In addition to now appearing on Sportsman's own platforms, the enhanced branding elements are being underlined by the launch of a multimedia "You Know You're a Sportsman" campaign. Like the new graphic elements, the campaign was developed internally and will run across parent company InterMedia Outdoor's various genre holdings, notably 15 market-leading magazines and attendant Web sites. Additionally, Sportsman has secured a schedule of online buys, as well as consumer and trade media.
Sportsman Channel president Willy Burkhardt said the network's team decided late last year that it would change its look, targeting the third quarter for its rollout. Brainstorming began in earnest early in 2009, with the coins becoming an early "reference point. They were never displaced. We built around them. There were 50-plus permutations of the coins and colors."
Burkhardt noted that even if there "weren't a lot of exciting things going on at the network," which has been invigorated by a host of fresh programming from parent IMO's commitment to developing more original content and returning genre staples that have been airing on other outlets to Sportsman, it was time to move past the original logo.
"We're hoping to redefine the space and the new logo is part of that package. It has a modern feel and a utility through the coins," he explained. "When people see the different coins, they'll think, fishing, hunting or shooting, and expect to see our programming."
For its launch, the new logo, accompanied by patriotic music, was part of a station ID on June 29 at 6 a.m. Sportsman, with an assist from the various other media, will be emphasizing the change over the next month. Together and individually, the coin (s) will appear on-air via 5-second IDs and as interstitials.
As alluded to earlier, though, Sportsman began teasing its new image on June 1, peeling back various layers of the new look in stages, both on on-air, through seven- and 10-second looks, and an online. Burkhardt said that over the course of the month, there were on-air "flyovers" in which viewers couldn't really "discern much" and then "flybys" in which watchers could begin to see things taking shape.
There were also staggered print image ads in IMO's titles, which Burkhardt said was a tricky process given various insert lead times of three to six weeks. "We had to make sure [the logo change] was kept under wraps," he said.
There was also an online companion campaign, plus social media promotion, which in a first for the network, included a Facebook page. That vehicle became home to a number of guesses -- many thought that Sportsman was launching a reality show -- as to what was occurring. They also indicated that blogs in the outdoor community were also intrigued by the teases. While they can't link the uptick specifically to those developments, Sportsman officials said traffic to its Web site grew significantly during June.
As to the new branding campaign, stunning visuals are flanked by the tagline reading: "You Know You're A Sportsman." Burkhardt said there are 10 different print executions across the network's three genres and subsets of more specific outdoor activities therein. Sportsman will also use online elements. A television effort for the campaign is expected to be mounted in the fourth quarter.
On the programming side, the network will debut an exclusive new show Tactical Arms, as part of more than 65 original original series episodes from IMO in the third quarter. The network's Q3 lineup also features new show debuts from several independent production companies, including Mossy Oak Productions and seasoned producer Team Fitzgerald TV.
Tactical Arms, which offers a unique exploration of modern weapons, from machine guns to battle rifles to combat pistols, will have its primary airing on Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. (ET) during the network's "Thursday Night Shooting" lineup presented by Midway USA. Each episode is devoted exclusively to one tactical firearm platform, and the expert hosts examine each gun's anatomy and performance.
Also on tap is the Mossy Oak Productions series Anchor Point; the introduction of the bowhunting father and son combo of Team Fitzgerald TV; and the first TV show focusing on air guns, called American Airgunner. Additional programming debuts on Sportsman include: Hunting University, Deer TV, No Fences, Heartland Bowhunter, The Rule, The Fowl Life, Powder Horn Montana TV, and Factory to Field.
All told, Sportsman will debut more than 500 original series episodes and 15 new shows in the period.