Skycam Signs New ESPN Deal

skycam/espn Outdoor Channel may compete with ESPN on hunting and fishing programming. But the two will continue to be in business together in a venture with a vastly different hook.

ESPN has a new multiyear agreement to continue using Skycam, the camera that provides aerial views of action during sportscasts. The cameras are strung on wires above the playing surface, and directors can easily maneuver them to capture different angles.

As before, ESPN will use the aerial cameras during "Monday Night Football" and other events. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While the "Skycam" brand is barely known by sports fans, the views the cameras provide have become a staple of broadcasts of big-time events.

Outdoor Channel Holdings, parent of the eponymous channel, acquired the Skycam business when it purchased Winnercomm, a sports production company, in January. Winnercomm had a link to Outdoor Channel as a content producer. The company has also produced outdoor programming for ESPN for years.

Skycam/Winnercomm's link with ESPN reestablishes Roger Werner's relationship with the all-sports network from a 50,000-foot perch. Werner, Outdoor Channel's president-CEO, was ESPN's COO from 1982-'88 and its CEO for the ensuing two years.

Publicly traded Outdoor Channel Holdings saw its share price jump nearly 11% Tuesday to the $7 range -- as investors may have seen some potential in the Winnercomm acquisition, which was announced Jan. 12.

Winnercomm provided a little over one-quarter of the Outdoor Channel's $17 million in revenues in the first quarter.

After ESPN, Werner helped found and profited handsomely from the eventual sales of the networks now known respectively as the Speed channel and Versus.

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