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Outdoor, Kroenke Snare Sportsman

A year after winning a contentious auction for Outdoor Channel, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment has firmed up its leadership in outdoor lifestyle media by agreeing to buy InterMedia Outdoors, parent of Sportsman Channel.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but KSE will acquire Sportsman Channel’s 30 million TV homes, 15 outdoor magazines (including Guns & Ammo, Petersen’s Hunting and In-Fisherman), 17 websites and TV production operations.

Those assets join a KSE portfolio that already includes World Fishing Network in addition to Outdoor Channel, which is available in 40 million TV homes.

KSE, headed by billionaire sports-team owner Stan Kroenke, is better known for owning bigtime, big-name teams and arenas. Kroenke owns the English soccer team Arsenal FC of the Barclays Premier League, the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association, the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League and the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.

A marriage of KSE and InterMedia would have seemed unlikely when the two entities traded barbs in their pursuit of Outdoor Channel.

InterMedia struck a deal to buy then-publicly owned Outdoor Channel for about $115 million in November of 2012. But KSE swooped in with a $227 million offer in March of 2013, setting up a full-fledged auction.

After several back-and-forth bids, KSE’s $268 million offer prevailed.

KSE said on Friday (Nov. 7) that Outdoor and Sportsman would continue to operate separately. It wouldn’t discuss plans for the channels, other than it “looks forward to sharing our strategic plans in the months ahead.” Executive vice president and chief operating officer Matt Hutchings said the deal provided a “natural fit.”

“We see the network assets combined with the print and digital assets as being very complimentary,” Hutchings said. “There are synergies you can take across the spectrum.”

It is also possible that the networks could shift focus to concentrate on different aspects of the outdoor lifestyle, Hutchings said, but for now “everything remains status quo.”

Both channels have tried to tap the $108 billion outdoor-lifestyle market with programming ranging from Amazing America With Sarah Palin, starring the former vice presidential candidate, on Sportsman Channel, to Outdoor Channel’s Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild.