Ski Channel Hits Slopes Christmas Day

Ad-supported VOD channel to launch Dec. 25 with long-term carriage deals on DirecTV, Verizon, Time Warner and others

The ad-supported VOD Ski Channel will launch Christmas Day with new, long-term carriage deals from DirecTV and Verizon to add to carriage on Time Warner, Cox and Brighthouse, according to Steve Bellamy, the new channel's chairman.

Ski Channel will launch in more than 15 million digital households, says Bellamy, who just completed a deal for additional capital to "fully finance" the channel.

Bucking conventional economic wisdom, Bellamy calls this "probably one of the greatest times there will ever be to launch a new business like this. New businesses always take a while to create a revenue model anyway, so in the meantime, while it matters less, we will be brand building and will be extremely nimble."

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.

Bellamy believes the fact that NBC's new Universal Sports network has locked up the rights to World Cup skiing coverage is actually a "net positive," since it will just mean more visibility for skiing on TV.