Thanks to recent packaging upgrades by Comcast and RCN, the Outdoor Channel reached a milestone in September, with an increase of more than 1 million new subscribers.

September’s subscriber gains made it one of the biggest distribution growth months in the network’s 19-year history. With the recent subscriber gains, the network is on pace to grow by nearly 2 million subscribers this year.

The Outdoor Channel has been the beneficiary of cable operators changing its packaging status from a sports tier, which often includes an additional monthly fee, to a digital basic tier.

Comcast and RCN’s respective footprints overlap in some areas, but the Outdoor Channel’s new subscribers came across major metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.

On Sept. 27, the cable network became available on Xfinity’s Digital Preferred Tier package to subscribers in Princeton, Jersey City, Meadowlands, Somerset, Union, and northwest and southern New Jersey; Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County and eastern Pennsylvania; and throughout Delaware.

Outdoor Channel has also broadened its relationship with RCN across New York City; Chicago; Philadelphia; Lehigh Valley, Pa.; Boston; and Washington, D.C. areas. Effective Sept. 26, the cable network was made available to subscribers via RCN's Signature Package, a significant move to a highly penetrated tier that put Outdoor Channel in the same realm as ESPN, CNN, Discovery and others.

Along with the recent expanded distribution footprint, Outdoor Channels Holdings said earlier this year it would ramp up production on several new and returning shows for 2012 and 2013 as part of the company's efforts to further reinforce the value of the Outdoor Channel brand.

"Outdoor Channel's ongoing success in distribution is reflective of our network's rising brand equity; our valued operator relationships; and viewer demand for our leading, family-friendly outdoor entertainment," said Outdoor Channel CEO and President Tom Hornish. "Our great distribution news is compounded by the network's aggressive programming strategy, providing even more viewers with access to our new character- and competition-driven shows across our core hunting, fishing and shooting categories."

From 2008 through this year, Outdoor Channel has added 12 million subscribers through a combination of new launches and packaging upgrades, primarily involving repositioning the network from sports tiers to digital basic tiers.

In total, more than 97 million cable, telco and satellite subscribers across the country have access to Outdoor Channel's programming in standard-definition or HD, including those in all top 50 U.S. DMAs.