Outdoor Channel’s board hopes to jumpstart distribution with its unanimous vote to replace co-pres/CEO Andy Dale with cable vet Roger Werner. "The last couple years, the channel has not grown as much as the board and shareholders would like to see," said Outdoor Holding CEO/chmn Perry Massie, who will turn over his title as CEO of the company to new pres Werner on Nov 10 (Cfax, 10/18). "Having [Werner] on board gives us a lot more credibility," he said. Dale, recipient of the ’03 "Nicest Guy in Cable" Faxie, is said to be considering an advisory role. Massie described Dale as "agreeable and on board with the transition as far as I know. … We’re very appreciative of all the efforts that Andy has put forth over the last 15 years. It was just time for a transition." News of Werner’s hiring immediately prompted chatter that Outdoor is going on the market, given his track record of building and selling nets like Speedvision (now Speed Channel) and Outdoor Life (now Versus). "My mission is not to sell the company," Werner said. Massie interrupted, saying that Werner’s mission is to grow the channel to 40-50mln subs, and "then we’ll probably be in better shape to sell the company." Werner’s no stranger to Outdoor, having approached Massie a few years ago with private equity players contemplating a deal. "When Perry called this summer, it was sort of logical to reignite," he said. Distribution is Outdoor’s biggest challenge, with the net stuck at around 28mln homes and fighting for broad carriage (ie, no sports tiers). The 2 promise Outdoor will hit the industry with an improved deal and incentives. "Cash up front, discounted rates and even equity in some cases—we’re exploring all those options," Werner said. The new chief also wants to revamp Outdoor’s content. "We’re not talking about radical surgery here… but it can use some cosmetic changes—new id’s, graphics, music," said Werner. He also wants to broaden the net’s reach "a little" beyond hunting and fishing, with more general outdoor adventure and recreation programming (motorsports, camping, hiking). "We won’t go all the way to where OLN was when I sold the business," he said. "It’ll be more anchored in the traditional field and stream sports."

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