Rainbow Sports Networks to Launch Sportskool, Exclusive Video-On-Demand Cable Network

First VOD Network Dedicated to Expert Sports Instruction and Coaching
Continues Rainbow's Commitment to Programming Created for VOD

Jericho, NY – May 27, 2003 – Rainbow Sports Networks, a subsidiary of Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings. Inc., today announced it will launch sportskool, a new exclusive video-on-demand (VOD) cable network, in the fourth quarter of 2003. Rainbow is taking a leading role in creating programming exclusively for VOD to support the industry’s effort to rollout digital set-top boxes, to drive VOD adoption, and to provide operators with valuable programming choices for this emerging platform.

sportskool will deliver in-depth expert instruction, coaching and guidance for a wide range of sports and fitness activities. The network – featuring exclusive and original programming available only via VOD – will launch with an extensive library of programming and the support of a comprehensive marketing campaign, including trade and consumer advertising and promotion, cross-channel promotion, and partnerships with youth and adult sports organizations. sportskool online, the broadband companion to the sportskool VOD network, will extend the value of the service for operators by offering archived segments, printable lesson plans, previews of VOD programming, and flash animated instructional segments.

sportskool is another significant step in our company-wide commitment to be first-to-market with compelling, entertaining and informative programming that is developed specifically for VOD,” said Josh Sapan, Rainbow’s president and CEO. “We don’t believe that re-purposing programming that has previously aired leverages the true potential of VOD. If that’s all the industry plans to do, we’re short-changing distributors, consumers and the industry as a whole.”

Andrea Greenberg, president, Rainbow Sports Networks, said, “sportskool is being built from the ground up exclusively for the VOD platform because we believe sports instruction is tailor-made to allow viewers to take advantage of the benefits of VOD technology. sportskool will deliver to millions of active Americans the kind of innovative, thoughtful and highly focused programming that drove the growth of the cable industry and that will help the industry deliver on the promise of VOD.”

The sportskool library already consists of approximately 1,500 instructional segments covering 90 different sporting activities. Upon its launch, sportskool will offer a broad range of programming content, initially focused on 15-20 core sports and fitness categories including:

















Programming will be updated and rotated on a seasonal basis and may also be customized for a particular region of the country based on operator needs and/or consumer demand.

Star athletes and highly respected sports authorities deliver the instructional segments. For example, basketball star Brent Barry, one of the game’s most dynamic and accurate shooting guards, teaches proper techniques for shooting a free throw. Former baseball great Steve Garvey, who collected more than 2,500 hits during his career, demonstrates the basic fundamentals of hitting and offers unique insights on getting set, developing a routine and performing under pressure. Professional snowboarder Kevin Delaney, former ISF Overall World Champion and founder of Delaney Snowboarding Camps, offers instruction on navigating moguls, developing the proper balance and foundation. And Women’s World Cup Champions Shannon MacMillian and Sara Whalen give tips on the art of “dribbling” the soccer ball.

sportskool is a natural extension of Rainbow Sports Networks’ 20-plus years of experience in sports television and leverages Rainbow’s expertise in delivering superior, highly targeted programming,” continued Greenberg. “We’re approaching the development of sportskool as we would any one of our cable brands, with a focus on delivering the highest quality production and instruction to fill a need among consumers.”

sportskool will target three primary audiences:

Adults: offering at-home, on-demand instruction for the millions of casual sports and fitness participants in the US, as well as the more serious athlete.

Kids: instruction specifically designed for the youth market, helping to teach proper technique and rules of the game, while building confidence and self-esteem.

Coaches: providing youth coaches (e.g. Little League, PAL, etc.) an instructional tool that can be used to teach their players skills and sportsmanship, while enhancing self-esteem and team camaraderie.

The Opportunity: $1.4 Billion Spent on Sports Instruction

Greenberg said, “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately $1.4 billion is spent annually in the US on sports instruction. And everyday, people of all ages are participating in a wide variety of sporting activities. The market represents a significant opportunity. With our first-mover status and experience in sports television, we are well positioned to lead the category.”

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s (SGMA) 2003 report on sports participation, 7.7 million people went snowboarding in 2002, an increase of 13 percent compared to the prior year; ice hockey grew 11 percent to 2.6 million and roller hockey grew more than five percent to 2.9 million; 11.1 million people did Yoga, a 14 percent increase; 16.4 million played tennis, an eight percent increase; 13 million people went skateboarding, a four percent increase; and 3.9 million people rode BMX, a six percent increase. The report also highlights other popular participatory activities, including basketball (37 million), bowling (53 million), golf (28 million), running (36 million), and volleyball (21 million).

sportskool Saturdays
Beginning this fall, sportskool will produce a half-hour show airing on Rainbow’s Fox Sports Net-affiliated regional networks each Saturday morning. “sportskool Saturdays” will showcase and promote the launch of the sportskool VOD cable network and educate consumers on the features and benefits of VOD technology. “sportskool Saturdays” will air on Rainbow’s owned-and-operated Fox Sports Net regional networks in Chicago, Florida, New England, Ohio and the San Francisco Bay Area.

At launch, sportskool will also receive in-game and on-air promotional support during NBA, NHL, and NCAA coverage and other programming.

About Rainbow Sports Networks:

Rainbow Sports Networks, owned and managed by Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., incorporates Rainbow’s 50 percent ownership of the national Fox Sports Net service and Fox Sports National Advertising, as well as Rainbow’s owned-and-operated Fox Sports Net regional networks in Chicago, Florida, New England, Ohio and San Francisco. Rainbow’s owned-and-operated regional sports networks reach more than 30 million households in some of the nation’s largest markets. Fox Sports Net reaches more than 82 million households nationwide and is a service of National Sports Partners, equally owned by Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. and Fox.

About Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc.:

A leader in sports, news and entertainment programming, Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC). Rainbow owns and manages AMC, WE: WOMEN’S ENTERTAINMENT, IFC (The Independent Film Channel), Fuse (formerly muchmusic usa), Mag Rack, Rainbow Sports Networks, News 12 Networks, and MetroChannels as well as the Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation and Rainbow Network Communications. Rainbow is a 50 percent partner in Fox Sports Net and has a strategic partnership with MGM (NYSE:MGM), which owns a 20 percent stake in three of Rainbow’s national networks: AMC, WE: Women’s Entertainment, and IFC.

Press Contacts

  • Rainbow Sports Networks

  • Mike Rosen / Melissa Goldberg
    Bratskeir & Company