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Upfront and Personal: Outdoor Sportsman Group to take aim with hybrid, mobile app

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Upfront and Personal: Outdoor Sportsman Group to take aim with hybrid, mobile app

Comeearly summer, the reach of the Outdoor Sportsman Group will go even furtherinto the field.

TheKroenke Sports &Entertainment LLC-owned unit, which comprises , andWorld Fishing Network(US), 15 magazines in the hunting and fishing categories and 19websites, is planning to launch a mobile app in early summer that willincorporate video and content from the abovementioned properties.

JasonBrist, executive vice president of ad sales at Outdoor Sportsman Group, in aninterview before its April 27 upfront event at Hill Country Barbecue in NewYork, said the mobile app will integrate programming from the three networks,plus video and other content emanating from the digital and print holdings. Thehybrid service will be accessible to authenticated subscribers to the threenetworks on a TV Everywhere basis, and open to others for a subscription fee,which Brist declined to disclose.

Theupcoming launch adds more pegs to the group's multiplatform pitch, which isalso aimed at deepening its relationship with national advertisers beyond thethree networks' large base of endemic supporters.

"Advertiserswill not only be able to reach outdoor enthusiasts on TV through our threenetworks, in print through the magazines, and on the websites, but also onmobile and tablets as well," Brist said.

Allin, Outdoor Sportsman Group's portfolio takes aim at the more than 134 millionAmericans who relax, compete and find adventure in the great outdoors."There are millions of enthusiasts and then the armchair adventurers wholove to watch and live vicariously," Brist said. "If we can convincethem to attend an outdoor show or an archery event, then getting them to thenext level is not that far off."

Bristsaid that when Kroenke Sports & Entertainment Sportsman Channel's parentcompany, InterMedia Outdoors Holdings, in November 2014, the intent for lastyear's upfront was to be "vocal about selling everything together, but weweren't really ready. Now, we have overcome those bumps."

Hesaid the sales team has been reorganized to facilitate cross-sellingopportunities at agencies. For instance, executives can now sell TV and printand "work on creative ideas together."

Bristsaid the company has been bucking the trend with print as subscribers"eagerly await their monthly magazine. It helps them become moresuccessful in the field and that's what the lifestyle is all about."

Healso noted the company struck a deal earlier this week with a New York-basedadvertiser that had never bought from the group before, with the packageincluding digital and the three networks.


Duck Dynasty anchors Outdoor Channel's Monday night lineup.

Source: Outdoor Sportsman Group

Ontelevision, Brist said that although the networks are competing for attentionfrom distributors looking to enhance their broadband offerings or introduceover-the-top services, there have been subscriber gains. Outdoor Channel hasmore than 40 million subscribers, while Sportsman Channel counts some 32 million.World Fishing Network's cast extends to some 5 million customers in the U.S.and another million in Canada.

OutdoorChannel is looking to broaden its audience with a homecoming of sorts. Thenetwork obtained the syndication rights for the first six seasons and 71episodes of "Duck Dynasty." The Robertson family's TV career tookflight on Outdoor Channel with "Duck Commander," the forbear to"Duck Dynasty," which became a major cable hit on . White-taildeer-hunting series "Buck Commander," starring Willie Robertson, airson the network and often features country music stars such as Jason Aldean andLuke Bryan.

"DuckDynasty" now anchors Outdoor Channel's Monday night lineup, showcasing alifestyle block that Brist believes represents a safe-haven for national brandslooking to enter the space in an environment absent guns and shooting. Viewerscan also find "Alaska's Wild Gourmet," about a family who catersgourmet meals for hunting and camping groups in the state; "Carter'sW.A.R.," chronicling wild-life conservationist Ivan Carter and his wildanimal response, or W.A.R., efforts; and "The Gunfather," whichfollows an Italian-American family that relocated from Long Island to Montana,where they operate a gun shop.

OnFridays at 9 p.m., Outdoor Channel presents action/adventure theatricals,including such titles "Jeremiah Johnson," "Once Upon a Time inthe West," "Silverado," "3:10 to Yuma," and "Gunsof the Magnificent Seven."

Bristsaid endemic advertisers account for about 65% of Outdoor Channel's base, withits national sponsor roster continuing to grow. SNL Kagan estimated theservice's gross advertising sales at just under $56 million in 2015.

Theratio of endemics is much higher, 80% to 90%, on Sportsman Channel, which isbeing positioned as a hunting/shooting service and features fare from renownedexperts in the field like Jim Shockey ("Jim Shockey's TheProfessionals"), Steven Rinella ("MeatEater"), Brian"Pigman" Quaca ("Pigman: The Series") and Mike Hanback("Big Deer TV with Mike Hanback"). SNL pegged Sportsman Channel'sgross ad sales at $30.2 million in 2015.

Bristsaid World Fishing Network presents a softer way for national advertisers towade into the outdoor category waters. Top shows include: "Grand SlamFishing," "World Fishing Journal," "MLF All Angles,""Timmy Horton Outdoors," "FLW Outdoors" and "The ScottMartin Challenge."

Morewomen watch the network than the other two services and that appeal of fishingaround Long Island has made it easier to present to the agencies in New York,according to Brist. Endemics account for 60% of the service's advertisingrevenue, which SNL Kagan estimated at $4.5 million in 2015.

Bristsaid Outdoor Sportsman Group, as a sponsor alternative to "stick and ballsports," has deals with general-market advertisers in a number of majorcategories, including trucks, insurance, beer, spirits and telcom. He saidcompany recently broke through with a pharmaceutical deal and is now looking toadd second, third and fourth advertisers in that and other arenas.

Hesaid it has been tough to crack the code with financial advertisers, owing tothe perception that the networks' viewers are from B, C and D counties anddownscale. Brist countered that notion by saying outdoor enthusiasts haveplenty of disposal income to travel, and purchase equipment and vehicles neededto live the lifestyle. Moreover, he said the networks have good distribution inmarkets like Houston, Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit.

AlthoughESPN (US) andNBCSN (US) stilloffer limited outdoor programming schedules, Brist said the networks also vie fornational ad dollars against A&E, History (US), Animal Planet (US) and Discovery Channel (US), with the latter airingshows like "Deadliest Catch."

"We'vebeen doing shows like that for 20 years. Our message to advertisers is that ournetworks are adding subscribers and they offer a full lineup of outdoorprogramming," said Brist. "The other networks might get passers-by,but we offer shows that appeal to passionate outdoor enthusiasts 24/7."