Cox hits the slopes with Ski Channel

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The Ski Channel has inked a multiyear distribution partnership with Cox Communications ahead of its launch later this year.

The amount of subscribers added through Cox was not disclosed, but industry sources said the pact gives Ski Channel about 3 million additional homes for a total of 13 million subscribers. The network expects to be in more than 20 million households at launch.

The parties said the deal puts the Ski Channel in all Cox video-on-demand enabled systems, making it one of the first original ad-supported sports-focused VOD networks to be fully rolled out across the MSO.

"The Ski Channel is out in front of where our business is headed," Cox senior vp programming Bob Wilson said. "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."

Meanwhile, Ski Channel chairman and CEO Steve Bellamy said that the network also is forming a Ski Channel Film Festival, devoted to mountain sports, activity and lifestyle genre films and programming.

"The quantity of films made in ski, snowboard, mountain biking, rock climbing and most mountain activity every year is staggering," Bellamy said. "I don't think there is a more prolifically filmed subject matter."

The festival will feature categories in ski, snowboard, mountain biking, rock climbing, directing, best athletes and various others. One of the main awards will be given on behalf of ski film pioneer Warren Miller. The Warren Miller Award will recognize someone each year for a significant lifetime achievement in the sport.

The channel is in discussions with U.S.-based ski resorts and mountain towns to host the festival.

Bellamy added that the festival will receive a great deal of promotion, including on the channel itself. The Ski Channel also is taking advantage of the fact that NATPE coincides at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas this week with a ski industry trade show and has arranged for a major marketing presence at the Mandalay.
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