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OLN Launching Three On-Demand Nets

Comcast Corp.’s Outdoor Life Network is preparing to launch three new on-demand channels, including what could be a cable network’s first HDTV on-demand extension.

Two of the VOD networks -- action-sports channel Hazardous and hunting-and-fishing channel Hooks & Bullets -- will kick off April 7.

OLN HD is scheduled to debut during the fourth quarter.

OLN plans to offer all three on-demand channels free-of-charge to cable operators that carry the flagship network on expanded-basic tiers.

Comcast systems nationwide will offer all three of the services to digital-cable subscribers as part of the MSO’s free-on-demand programming package, according to Comcast spokesman Chris Ellis.

The strategy to launch niche action-sports and hunting-and-fishing content will see OLN compete directly against The Outdoor Channel, an independent network that runs mostly hunting and fishing shows, and against Fox Cable Networks Group’s Fuel, an action-sports outlet.

While some programmers have resisted offering cable operators VOD content free-of-charge, OLN is heeding parent Comcast’s focus on offering on-demand content from basic-cable and broadcast networks at no additional charge.

Meanwhile, Outdoor Channel plans to launch a linear HD network, Outdoor Channel 2 HD, in October. That network is also considering offering cable operators programs that could be provided to subscribers on demand.

Programming for OLN’s on-demand networks will include library shows, programs shot specifically for on-demand tiers and programming vignettes sponsored by advertisers and packaged essentially into long-form advertisements.

OLN HD titles will include Lance Chronicles, starring five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong; the Gravity Games; Fly Fishing America; National Parks Extreme Adventure; and The Gravity Files.

For more on OLN’s on-demand offerings, please see Steve Donohue’s story on page three of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.