After hitting its five-year anniversary earlier this year, Outside TV is hoping to catch a big wave in 2016 with an expanded slate of original series.
The Westport, Conn.-based company is a rare animal in TV these days — an independent linear cable channel. Outside TV, which focuses on “active outdoor lifestyle” pursuits, is available in about 45 million homes via Dish Network, Comcast, Cox, Suddenlink, RCN and Google Fiber. It is advertising-supported although at present it is not Nielsen rated.
The company is revving up four new series for 2016 and has renewed three others. The goal is to broaden the channel’s viewership beyond its core of audience of outdoor enthusiasts. Outside TV’s wheelhouse is programming revolving around skiing, sailing, surfing, hiking, running, biking — generally any adventurous recreational pursuit involving wind, water or snow.
Rob Faris, Outside’s senior VP of programming and production, said the new slate of shows will coincide with an off-air marketing push aided by its MVPD partners. Short-form video for Outside TV’s digital offshoot is also a priority, he said.
“We’ve certainly checked the box on reaching our core audience,” Faris told Variety. “Now we’re trying to find things to help us appeal to a broader scope of viewers. We’ve been working with our partners at Comcast, Cox and Dish who have been really great about helping viewers find the channel.”
Among the new series, “In Search of Speed” is a partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn. that follows U.S. ski teams as they prepare for the 2016 World Cup season. The emphasis is on the personal stories of top contenders such as Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso. Outside has ordered eight half-hour episodes from Jalbert Prods.
“Maverick Moments” pairs top surfers with filmmakers as they search for giant waves to ride and capture on film. “Liftoff” is something of a buddy comedy, pairing BASE jumper Jokke Sommer and surfer Niccollo Porcella on a travelogue series as they tackle various waves and cliffs in Maui, France, Switzerland and Norway. “Unreal” revolves around extreme mountain bikers.
Outside TV is a partnership with the magazine of the same name. Outside TV CEO Mark Burchill lead a buyout of what had been Resorts Sports Network in 2007. He struck a joint venture with the magazine in 2009 and Resort Sports was relaunched as Outside TV in June 2010. Faris has headed programming for Outside TV since the relaunch.
The company is increasing its investment in original production through its Outside Television Studios unit. At the same time, Outside TV is now becoming a player in the world of independent production entities that specialize in adventure and extreme-sports production.
“It took time but the creative community has discovered us as a place to tell their stories,” Faris said. “We’re not a live event-driven network. Our channel is based on episodic TV series and documentary films. That makes us a good alternative to everything else that is out there.”
The three series renewed by Outside are: “Outlook,” an interview series with notable figures who are active in adventure sports; “Locals,” a look at adventure enthusiasts’ favorite off-the-map spots; and “Dispatches,” which examines news and technological developments in the adventure sports arena.