Andy Dale had a great summer. The president and CEO of The Outdoor Channel watched new shows such as Angler on Tour, a reality series following pro B.A.S.S. fisherman Joe Thomas, and World of Outlaws, featuring Outlaw Sprint Car races, lift TOC’s summer ratings during a season in which fans of the outdoors are found outdoors—not inside watching television. He’s also been getting kudos from operators for The Outdoor Channel 2, an all-HD network officially launching July 2005. "A number of operators were already offering HD, but there’s a very limited amount of full-time HD for their customers," says Dale. "The broadcasters tend to have HD in prime time, but the rest of the time they go back to standard definition and, surprisingly, as one operator told me, sometimes they just switch the HD off." TOC held weeklong HD boot camps for producers this summer and next week hosts an HD pitch workshop at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival (Sept. 8-12), which the channel co-sponsors every year as it’s held in its California backyard. Among the hi-def programs that started shooting this summer for TOC 2 are Discovering America’s National Parks, Cowboys, Ultimate Match Fishing, Hunting Dogs, Wings to Adventure and Cast and Blast. TOC 2 will launch a preview signal in January for affiliates. "It is a beta test, so operators can put it on and give it to their customers as TOC 2 HD, but there will be a high repeat factor. [This is not] what the channel will look like on July 1," Dale says. Nearing 30 million homes, the Nielsen-rated network is opening an ad sales office in New York this month to promote TOC and TOC 2 to national advertisers. "We’re also going to help our affiliates market HD," says Dale. "We’ve set aside a marketing budget leading up to the launch. By next year I want people to be calling their cable systems asking, `When are you getting The Outdoor Channel 2?’"

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