DENVER (AP) — The founder of The Tennis Channel and The Ski Channel is launching another niche offering, The Surf Channel, in mid-September.
Founder Steve Bellamy said the video-on-demand network should be accessible to 20 million households when it launches through cable, satellite and online distribution partners including Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Filmon.com and YouTube.
Bellamy started The Tennis Channel in 2003 with access to about 53,000 households. The Ski Channel launched in 2008. He projects both will be available to about 45 million households soon.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association estimates there were about 2.5 million surfers in the U.S. in 2011. By contrast, an estimated 10.2 million people alpine ski, according to the trade group Snowsports Industries America.
Bellamy concedes far fewer people surf than play tennis or ski but said the audience for surfing footage is immense, considering the number of mainstream shops that sell board shorts. "Try to find a ski helmet in a mall," he said.
"Surf is probably the best canvas to paint on from a television perspective," Bellamy said. "You've got the most beautiful locations you could dream of, it's always fun and sun, you've got beautiful bodies, superhuman athleticism and the whole extreme thing, with people riding gigantic waves. It's where sport meets art in a lot of ways, and it's done in the most beautiful places in the world. It's a great place to do moving pictures."
Bellamy wouldn't reveal costs of launching The Surf Channel.
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