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World Fishing Network Catches Charter Distribution Pact

WFN: World Fishing Network is in Charter Communications’ distribution tackle box.

The operator has added WFN, North America’s only dedicated 24-hour fishing service, to its systems serving Minnesota on its Charter Sports View tier, at channel 407.

The rollout is the first under a corporate deal WFN parent, Insight Sports struck with Charter early in the fourth quarter, terms of which were not disclosed.

The network, which launched north of the border in 2005, has complete national coverage in Canada, reaching some 5 million digital households, according to WFN president Mark Rubinstein.

With the Charter pact, which will eventually be available to all of the operator’s 5 million-plus subscribers in 27 states, WFN is accessible by more than 20 million households through North American cable, satellite, and telecommunications distributors.

Rubinstein said that in addition to making stops at Charter’s headquarters, members of the network’s affiliate team visited with many of Charter’s systems in the 18 months prior to the signing of the master contract and found strong expressions of interest in the service.

“The expectation is that WFN will launch on a number of additional Charter lineups during first quarter 2009,” said Rubinstein, noting that Minnesota was a logical place for the network to cast its line.

“Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes and there is very significant over-indexing in the state in terms of people who make fishing part of their lifestyle,” he said.

“We are pleased to provide this unique special interest programming for our customers’ enjoyment,” added John Crowley, vice president and general manager for Charter’s Minnesota operations, in a statement “Charter is committed to building long-term, satisfying relationships with our customers by providing services our customer’s want.  World Fishing Network offers content that adds value to our service, and responds to requests from our customers,”

The Charter pact follows a deal with Verizon’s FiOS TV, which is offering the service in both standard and high-definition.WFN also has distribution for its stand-alone HD service with Dish Network. Rubinstein said having distinct standard-def and HD networks gives the service an advantage in the marketplace.

“Unlike many services WFN HD is not a simulcast. What that does is offer maximum flexibility. We work for cable operators that want to bolster their sports tiers,” he said. “In the case of Dish, the satellite provider wanted to augment its HD lineup.”

Looking ahead, Rubinstein remains hopeful that WFN will catch deals with other distributors in 2009.

“We’ve had our nose to the grindstone, diligently contacting distributors and are confident WFN will grow,” Rubinstein said. “The network with its fishing and outdoor enthusiasts cross-indexes very well with viewers who enjoy NASCAR, the NFL and Major League Baseball.

WFN’s programming roster features Kent Hrbek Outdoors, hosted by the former Minnesota Twins great. The network offers viewers insight from a variety of professional anglers, notably Babe Winkelman, Bill Dance, Al Lindner, Scott Martin, George Poveromo and Bob Izumi. The network’s lineup also includes a variety of lifestyle shows including Charlie Moore TV, Hookin’ Up with Mariko Izumi and WFN’s Reel Road Trip