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Cox Communications Hits the Slopes with The Ski Channel

The Ski Channel, which will be on prominent display at the National Association of Television Program Executives’ conference, signed a distribution deal with Cox Communications that upped its household reach to 13 million, chairman and CEO Steve Bellamy said late last week.

The channel, which is targeted for launch in the first half of this year, already has deals with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, and Bellamy said he is looking to launch with more than 20 million households.

Cox senior vice president Bob Wilson gave the channel a shout-out in announcing the deal. “They are building this service for and targeting it to a well-defined niche of passionate people who are underserved on television,” he said in a release set to hit the wires Monday.

Bellamy knows all about serving a niche audience as founder of Tennis Channel,who bought his ski resort first and from that grew a film festival and cable channel.

The Ski Channel will target ski-resort areas and their upscale residents and cover all manner of mountain sports including snow boarding, mountain biking, hiking and climbing.

Bellamy will be in Las Vegas to promote the channel at the NATPE convention, as well as at a snow-sports trade show that just happens to be holding court in the same hotel -- the Mandalay Bay -- at the same time.

The channel bought ad space at the entrance to the Mandalay Bay and the cab line, where 40-foot and 14-foot screens, respectively will interact with passersby, whose movements will trigger virtual snowfalls, launch skiing videos and more.

To help further plant its flag in the lucrative snows sports space, the channel is launching a Ski Channel Film Festival for mountain-sports films, with one of the first major awards named after ski film pioneer Warren Miller.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.