2015 ATA Show Rumor Mill: Sportsman Channel Slated for All-Fishing Programming… NOT


SC_Logo_5_5_09_FinalIt’s been said the outdoor industry is something akin to a small town. We have a few town meeting places like SHOT, ATA and other industry trade shows where the usual suspects gather, plenty of “water cooler” concession stands ripe for idle chatter, and what many consider is one degree of separation as opposed to the six supposedly comprising the rest of the known world — call me skeptic. And like small towns, idle chatter left unchecked often funnels into a rumor mill populated by a populace of “neighbors” peering over your back fence and making assumptions.

I want to qualify this imagery by stating the obvious to industry professionals. We work in the most amazing industry, in my estimation, the working world has ever known. We operate in and around God’s creation, build legacies founded upon fist-full-of-dirt values and integrity driven moral compasses, encounter life-changing adventures and challenges often, create memories with family, friends and colleagues… and get paid to do it. Indeed, we are blessed beyond measure to invest ourselves in work that often doesn’t feel like… well, WORK!

That said, the 2015 ATA Show played the unwilling host again to rumor mill antics. I heard many, a couple impactful, a few others were meaningless and a handful were scarcely worth a chuckle but one rumor about Sportsman Channel is worth putting to bed.

fishing1While many deer hunters were plugged into the early November rut, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), the current owner and operator of Outdoor Channel as well as half of World Fishing Network, announced the purchase of Intermedia Outdoor Holdings, Inc., including Sportsman Channel, 15 magazines, 17 websites and any other broadcast production falling under Intermedia’s umbrella. After the purchase was announced it didn’t take long for rumors to pick up steam, including the unfounded idea that Sportsman Channel’s programming is slated to replace hunting content with an all-out fish fest.

While KSE owner, Stan Kroenke, certainly can amend programming to fit his whim, short of breaching contracts, why would he? Sure, Kroenke is wealthier than most of the known world could possibly imagine but that in and of itself is meaningless as it relates to this rumor. The truth about Kroenke is that he is a devout Republican and outdoor enthusiast. Sure he fishes but did you know he hunts, too? Kroenke owns ranches in Canada, Montana and Wyoming and can often be found there hunting and fishing with friends and colleagues. Unlike an attribute such as wealth, these traits are relevant to the circulating rumor.

Leo Hindery, Jr.
Leo Hindery, Jr.

The same people propagating this rumor last week likely also failed to recall that in 2013 Kroenke swooped in to save Outdoor Channel from the clutch of staunch democratic supporter and Obama advisor, Leo Hindery, who already owned Sportsman Channel. Now, in November, Kroenke jumps back in to acquire Sportsman Channel and our response is to empower baseless rumors by passing them on.

Also noteworthy is Hindery’s ranking as a top democratic fundraiser including support of both Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo… and doing so partly with gun owner funds! Consider that NRA, Nugent and many other high-profile entities have advertised and broadcasted on Sportsman Channel and Intermedia’s other publishing platforms. Considering Hindery’s affiliations and fundraising efforts, where do you think his pro-gun dollars have been going?

I for one am optimistic about Kroenke’s November, 2014 acquisition. Call me naïve but I believe the move was positive on many fronts, beginning, fundamentally with the fact that Kroenke is an outdoorsman. What part of the acquisition and Kroenke’s background suggests Sportsman Channel is slated to be revamped into an all-fishing channel? NONE. I may eat my words as they relate to this rumor; however, it’s highly unlikely. Sportsman Channel rests much easier in Stan Kroenke’s hands than it ever did in Hindery’s.

SHOT Show is less than a week away. One can only imagine what creative rumors might pop up at that “town hall” meeting of 60,000+. Perhaps I should be busy considering more important issues like whether or not my boots are going to hold up for one more week.