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Ski Channel in '08

Steve Bellamy has a new racquet. Only this one looks more like a snowshoe.

The founder and former president of the Tennis Channel has a long-term carriage deal with Time Warner for The Ski Channel, a digital VOD service he says will launch in first quarter 2008.

The channel's programming, which will be almost all original, according to Bellamy, will cover much more than skiing, extending to mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, climbing, and just about anything else people are inclined to do on, well, an incline, as well as a few off-mountain activities: camping, kayaking, etc.

The $10 billion resort business is a natural for the channel, he says, adding that skiing is the premiere mountain activity and one where “you have to travel, you have to rent a hotel room, and you have to take a plane or ground transportation,” all of which are potential clients for the ad-supported channel.

Charter advertisers Panasonic, Mirage Resorts, Fender Guitars and Marquis Jets are already lined up, Bellamy says.—John Eggerton