In a surprise return to the cable network business, former ESPN CEO Roger Werner is taking the helm of the Outdoor Channel. Werner will be president and CEO of the programmer and its publicly-traded parent company, Outdoor Channel Inc. He will replace Perry Massie, who is resigning the top post as of November 10, but will remain chairman of the board.
Werner spent eight years at ESPN, first as COO and ultimately as president and COO. He left in 1990 to start the Prime Sports string of regional sports cable networks, which was ultimately sold to News Corp. and is the spine of the Fox Sports regional operation.
Backed by three cable operators in 1995, Werner created Speedvision and Outdoor Life Network. After seven years he sold the networks, with Speedvision going to Fox and Outdoor Life going to Comcast.
Outdoor Channel needs some help. After more than a decade of wooing cable and satellite operators, the network currently has just 27 million subscribers. The company generated $42 million in revenues last year, and is modestly profitable.