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Young Males in OLN’s Sights

Jun 6, 2005  •  Post A Comment

For the first time in its 10-year history, Comcast-owned Outdoor Life Network plans to launch a new brand campaign.

The push is designed to bolster the network’s appeal to young male viewers and also help the network become known simply as OLN. A new logo and graphics will roll out at the start of this year’s Tour de France coverage, which begins July 2 on the network. In addition to the new look, OLN hopes the campaign will communicate the message that it is a place where tough competitive sports are found. Coverage of the grueling Tour de France and OLN’s recently acquired “Survivor” repeats are expected to figure prominently in establishing the network’s competitive-sports reputation.

“We wanted to be different from other networks doing sports-one without scoreboards,” OLN President Gavin Harvey said. “The competition could be man-versus-man, man-versus-animal or man-versus-nature.”

The network’s current “Out You Go” tagline is out and won’t be replaced. Instead, Mr. Harvey said, he hopes OLN’s new branding design will be enough to tell viewers its programming story.

Individual shows and events will continue to have their own specific branding themes. For instance, for its “PBR” professional bull riding programming, it uses “What happens here, hurts here.” For the upcoming Tour de France coverage, OLN will tease viewers with “Cyclysm 2: The Ride of a Lifetime.” When “Survivor” comes on board this summer, the network will offer, “Grab your torches and get back to camp.”

The new logo features white lettering on a red background, representing the strength and competitiveness of the sports on the network, Mr. Harvey said. On-air graphics also will feature bold colors. Los Angeles-based creative agencies Bird Design and Fuel worked on the graphics.

While the new campaign will launch, July 2, OLN will continue to build its new marketing effort through the summer. On Sunday, July 24, right after the last broadcast of the Tour de France-also the last professional race day of Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong-“Survivor” will debut on the network at noon (ET).

Later that evening “Survivor” will have its official premiere, taking advantage of the larger potential universe of TV viewers. In the coming years “Survivor” will be the big mainstay prime-time program for the network. The Mark Burnett-produced show will have two airings a night on OLN, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. OLN bought 165 episodes, covering all 10 editions of the show. OLN paid about $200,000 to $250,000 per episode, television programming executives said.

“The rebranding is an attempt to stand out more in the cable crowd,” said Brad Adgate, senior VP and corporate research director for New York-based media buyer Horizon Media. “Outdoor Life is probably still regarded as a second-tier cable network, and while it has some advertisers that are endemic, they don’t have [a broad range of] huge TV brands.”

OLN hopes these moves will continue to improve its ratings among young male viewers. Recently its weekday prime-time “PBR” program has been doing just that, Mr. Harvey said. Overall for this past May, OLN improved 26 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 42 percent in total viewers, he said.

OLN’s efforts in acquiring “Survivor” and airing other nonscripted shows, such as “E-Force,” which follows the police who guard the Florida Everglades, represent a programming shift.

“We have been super-serving the doers, the outdoor participants, the active lifestyle people. We want them to watch the channel,” Mr. Harvey said. “We now want to accommodate the viewers who just like to watch TV. They love sports and big events.”