Outdoor Channel 2 HD Lines Up Service Electric

San Francisco -- The Outdoor Channel has signed up Service Electric Cable TV Inv. as the first affiliate for its HDTV spinoff, Outdoor Channel 2 HD, officials announced Sunday the National Show.

At a press conference, Outdoor Channel CEO Andy Dale also disclosed that three to five years down the road the core outdoor network will be transitioned to an HDTV service, as well.

Outdoor Channel 2 HD soft launched last week, with a formal full-fledged debut set for July 1. Right now about 50% of its programming is original and unique to it, not off of Outdoor Channel, Dale said. “It’s not just a simulcast of our existing channel,” he added.

Service Electric, based in Allentown, Pa., has 90,000 subscribers overall, with 1,000 of them taking the cable operator’s HDTV package, according to Donald Brandt, the MSO’s director of programming, who was also at the press conference.

Service Electric, one of the first cable companies in the country, is selling an HDTV tier of 21 networks for $11 a month, according to Brandt. “It’s great, breathtaking, video and audio-wise,” Brandt said of the new HDTV channel. Outdoor Channel is giving consumers a preview of its new HDTV outlet, in that a clip of it is being run at the electronics departments of major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Costco and Best Buy, among others.

Outdoor Channel 2 HD now has 300 hour of unique programming, and will have 1,000 hours by year’s end. Dale said that he is in negotiations to do a master carriage deal for Outdoor Channel 2 HD with the National Cable Television Cooperative.