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Wheely Good In tandem with its website, Outdoor Life Network has taken the Tour de France and ridden with it

July 30, 2001
July 30, 2001

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July 30, 2001

Wheely Good In tandem with its website, Outdoor Life Network has taken the Tour de France and ridden with it

Its reputation tarred by a drug scandal, the Tour de France was
a less than appealing television property in 1999. The fledgling
Outdoor Life Network saw opportunity in the depressed market and
acquired U.S. rights to the Tour for a mere $3 million over four
years beginning in 2001. OLN had a plan. Says Peter Englehart,
senior vice president of programming and production, "We wanted
to do it live."

This is an article from the July 30, 2001 issue Original Layout

That strategy has changed the way Americans watch what might be
the world's second most popular annual sporting event after the
World Cup. Since the Tour began on July 8, OLN's daily live
coverage--the first available in the U.S.--has been shown at 9:30
a.m. ET on weekdays and Saturdays. (CBS has picked up with taped
coverage on Sundays, as it will do this Sunday at 2 p.m., when it
will air exclusive coverage of the final stage.) OLN has also
offered six hours a day of replays or highlights, a huge leap
over ESPN's half-hour or one-hour weekday recap shows of years
past.

In tracking the quest of Lance Armstrong (right) for a
three-peat, OLN has also extended its Tour coverage to its
website, olntv.com. In producing the English-language version of
the Tour's official site, letour.com, OLN has provided race
video, an online first, and live streaming audio of every stage.
The video has featured race highlights and interviews with stage
winners.

OLN is available in 37 million of the 102.2 million U.S. TV
households. (The channel won't be monitored by Nielsen until
later this year.) Despite the low visibility, Englehart thinks
his gamble was worthwhile. "This," he says, "is our Super
Bowl."

--John O'Keefe

COLOR PHOTO: CHARLES PLATIAU/REUTERS