Tennis Channel founder Steve Bellamy is tackling another popular pastime, launching a video on-demand service dedicated to all things skiing.
Bellamy’s Atonal Sports and Entertainment has already signed a long-term affiliation agreement with Time Warner Cable to carry the Ski Channel, an ad-supported outlet set to bow in early 2008. Other carriage agreements are in the works for the channel, which Atonal is fully funding.
The all-original content will focus on a wide variety of winter and summer mountain activities, from skiing and snowboarding to rock climbing and kayaking. Charter advertisers include Panasonic, Mirage Resorts, Marquis Jets and Fender Guitars.
Bellamy said he first came up with the idea for the Ski Channel 10 years ago but decided that the Tennis Channel — with a full plate of live events — made more sense to launch first as a traditional, linear cable outfit.
“With skiing, there’s less emphasis on competition; it’s more about self-enjoyment,” he said. “It’s more niche in terms of competition. And there are so many different disciplines — there are hundreds of things you could do on a mountain. A linear channel doesn’t make sense. VOD is the perfect technology for the space.” Bellamy noted that the “mountain world” consists of more than 500 resorts and is worth $10 billion in yearly travel spending. Ski Channel will target the upscale, high-end mountain enthusiasts — viewers who own property in Aspen, for example.
Every metric in skiing is pointing north, he said. The mountain world is one of extreme affluence.
Programming on the net will include skiing-related movies, instructional videos, reality series, travel shows and user-generated content, all arranged by pods.
Given Bellamy’s success in creating big events for the Tennis Channel, including the annual “Tennispalooza” extravaganza (which includes the Tennis Channel Open and other events), a similar ski-related showcase may be in the works.
Atonal owns several sport facilities, including the Palisades Tennis Center and L.A. Golf Academy, as well as the Palisades Studios and Atonal Films and TV.