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Cox Set to Offer VOD Ski Channel

Jan 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Ski Channel will be slaloming with Cox Communications when it launches later this year.
Cox has agreed to carry the video-on-demand channel on all of its systems. The network previously signed VOD deals with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, giving it about 13 million homes.
With a few more deals just over the hill, Ski Channel expects to have about 20 million households at launch, according to Ski Channel Chairman and CEO Steve Bellamy, who earlier founded the Tennis Channel.
“With the additional Cox subscribers, the Ski Channel has leapfrogged over the critical mass of subscribers needed to be a viable business,” Mr. Bellamy said. “We are in discussions and negotiations with the lion’s share of the remaining distributors and will have a number of other positive announcements in the very near future.”
At a time when cable operators are reticent to add channels and pay additional subscriber fees, Mr. Bellamy is betting VOD is the right path. And operators appear to agree.
“The Ski Channel is out in front of where our business is headed. They are building this service for and targeting it to a well-defined niche of passionate people who are underserved on television and with unique needs the channel intends to fulfill on every level,” said Bob Wilson, senior VP of programming at Cox. “Steve has delivered a business model and network that works for all parties involved: consumers, distributors and the network.”
In Ski Channel’s model it doesn’t seek subscriber fees from operators, but its deals call for carriage on all of an operator’s VOD-ready systems, unlike the so-called “hunting licenses” many linear channels got from operators, which means they would be carried only if they could convince local general managers.
The channel plans to generate revenue from advertising, by creating partnerships with ski destinations and equipment makers, and by helping to sell travel packages through its Web site.
Ski Channel still has one major mountain to climb: getting Comcast on board. The nation’s biggest cable operator was an early mover into VOD and may already have a full load of programming in its servers.
Ski Channel also announced plans to create the Ski Channel Film Festival.
The festival would be a central location for movies about mountain sports, including snowboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing.”
The festival will feature an award named after Warren Miller, a key figure in the ski film industry.
“The quantity of films made in ski, snowboard, mountain biking, rock climbing and most mountain activity every year is staggering,” Mr. Bellamy said. “I don’t think there is a more prolifically filmed subject matter. We are going to build the ultimate arena to aggregate and showcase this body of work every year with the marketing muscle of the Ski Channel to promote it 365 days a year.”

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