Ski Channel Celebrates Christmas Launch

New ad-supported VOD channel debuts to 15 million households via Time Warner, Cox, Brighthouse, DirecTV and Verizon FiOS

It’s all downhill from here for a programming service launched in the teeth of a recession. But, ironically, that’s a good thing.

The Ski Channel got out of the gate as planned Christmas Day, according to channel chairman Steve Bellamy.

At launch, the ad-supported VOD offering was available to 15 million households via deals with Time Warner, Cox, Brighthouse, DirecTV, and Verizon FiOS.

Actually, the action isn’t all downhill despite the name. The channel is about a variety of mountain sports, winter and summer, including snowboarding, hiking, biking, backpacking, climbing and even snowshoe racing.

The Ski Channel's programming will be shot in HD, but it will start in SD to reach the widest possible audience. The network will target ski-resort areas and their upscale residents, and cover all manner of mountain sports including snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking and climbing.

The channel is launching in tough economic times, but Bellamy argues that will put fewer revenue expectations on the channel at the outset. "New businesses always take a while to create a revenue model anyway," he told B&C last month, "so in the meantime, while it matters less, we will be brand building and will be extremely nimble."

The channel had initially been set to launch in the first half of the year, then in August, but it was still lining up carriage and programming deals, with more of those in the pipeline, an enthusiastic-sounding Bellamy said Christmas Day. “I cannot believe the viewer response we are getting,” he said in an e-mail.