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Altitude’s Big Catch: Half of WFN

Altitude Sports &
Entertainment, the regional
sports network owned by
Kroenke Sports Enterprises,
has cast an acquisition line
into the water, hooking a 50%
interest in WFN: World Fishing
Network from Insight Sports.

As part of the transaction
that is expected to be announced
today (Jan. 10), the
24/7 fishing service will consolidate
its U.S. operations
at Altitude’s Network Operations
Center in Centennial,
Colo. WFN, which reaches
some 20 million households in
the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean
will retain its Toronto
facility, with WFN president
and CEO Mark Rubinstein remaining in those roles.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, aligns two of the most prominent sports
companies and owners in North America. Stan Kroenke’s KSE owns the National Basketball
Association’s Denver Nuggets, the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche
and the Major League Soccer champion Colorado Rapids, among other assets.

Insight Sports, whose principal shareholders include Larry Tanenbaum, through
his Kilmer Enterprises, also holds interactive gaming channel GameTV and part of
the NHL Network. Tanenbaum is also chairman and investor in Maple Leaf Sports &
Entertainment, which controls the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA Toronto Raptors
and MLS’s Toronto FC, among other properties.

“On the ice, hardwood and grass, there will be good healthy competition. On the lakes
and rivers, we’ll be one,” said Matt Hutchings, president and CEO of Altitude Sports &
Entertainment, who noted that Kroenke is an avid angler, outdoorsman and conservationist.
“He has real affi nity for WFN, which is a first-class operation with a great upside.”

Altitude will provide technical and back-office support, enabling WFN to concentrate
more of its resources on fortifying its programming assets and growing its affiliate base throughout North America.

The parties also expect synergies on the content side. Altitude already presents
a regional outdoor programming block and is interested in exposing some of those
producers to WFN’s national and international platforms, while at the same time
the RSN might acquire some of WFN’s fare.

“This is a large and powerful group of passionate anglers. This is an under-served
market that possesses a lot of economic clout,” Rubinstein said, adding that the
partnership with Altitude
will help WFN
build its affiliate base,
which currently includes
Comcast, Charter,
Dish, Verizon FiOS
and AT&T U-verse
connections, among
others.