Sportsman Channel to Unleash Iditarod Programming

Network Brings Alaskan Sled Dog Spectacle Back to National Television

Sportsman Channel continues to augment its programming roster, as it will present a dozen hours around the Iditarod sled dog spectacle in March.

As the official network of the Iditarod, Sportsman Channel will exclusively spotlight the stories about the grueling trek in Alaska, showcasing the dogs, men and women and the race’s breath-taking wilderness setting.

During a week-long stunt entitled Iditarod Unleashed, Sportsman will air 12 hours of ancillary programming and specials – including never-before-seen footage for a national audience from the Iditarod library – timed around the 2014 competition.  The coverage on the 32-million subscriber Sportsman will mark Iditarod’s return to national television:  race-related programming last appeared on Versus (now NBCSN) in 2009.

The event’s organizers, the Iditarod Trail Committee, will continue to produce the event and provide in-depth coverage and video footage via a robust, subscription online platform here.

“The Iditarod is important to the American imagination, to our sense of big adventure and spirit,” said Sportsman Channel CEO Gavin Harvey. “This is a great opportunity for Sportsman Channel to begin a new era with the Iditarod and bring exposure to this uniquely American, high-intensity event outside of Alaska. We have a vision for a long-term relationship with the Iditarod.”

The Iditarod partnership, financial terms of which were not disclosed, follows Sportsman’s recent deal with former Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin, who will host Amazing America with Sarah Palin a weekly, half-hour anthology show that will feature the ex-Alaska governor and best-selling author traveling around the country to shine a light on some of the personal stories surrounding the worlds of hunting, shooting and angling. The series, which is scheduled to bow on April 3, is currently in production.

Harvey and Sportsman executive vice president, programming and production Mark Fein are very familiar with the Iditarod from their tenures at Versus. The first iteration of Iditarod Unleashed fare begins March 25 at 7 p.m. (ET/PT) with a one-hour special “Why Do They Run?”

Iditarod Unleashed on Sportsman will deliver dramatic stories of the dogs, mushers, volunteers, history, wildlife and unforgiving terrain with this world-famous Alaskan test of rugged endurance,” said Fein. “With so much incredible content to choose from, the challenge for us will be to select which stories to focus on.”

Added Harvey: “It’s a super-quality event. We will work closely with Iditarod organizers in determining how we will frame our presentation.”

The 2014 Iditarod sled dog race begins on March 1. Teams comprising 16 dogs and one musher begin in Anchorage and end their journey 1,161 miles later in Nome. Approximately 1,000 dog will burn nearly 10,000 calories daily over the course of the eight-day run. The rugged, barren Alaskan terrain consists of 26 checkpoints on the northern route and 27 checkpoints on the southern route, including three mandatory rest stops.

"We are excited that Iditarod fans outside the State of Alaska will again be able watch the race on television through our new partnership with Sportsman Channel," said Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee. "Sportsman Channel is the leader in the outdoor television genre and we look forward to having their viewers experience the competition and drama of the 2014 race, as well as see some great specials about the dogs and the history of this amazing event."

Harvey believes Iditarod Unleashed will appeal to the networks’ viewers passion for all things outdoors, and will also strike a chord with potential sponsors in the dog/pets, truck/automotive and travel categories.

He said the event and Iditarod Unleashed will benefit from promotion across Sportsman’s multimedia assets.