Paralympics Goes Universal

NEW YORK Universal Sports, a destination for amateur sports programming co-owned by NBCU and InterMedia Partners, will present the first multiplatform broadcast of the International Paralympic Games. The event takes place next month in Beijing.

The Paralympic Games features 4,000 athletes from some 150 countries competing in 20 sports, including swimming, horse riding and wheelchair basketball.

The presenting sponsor in the U.S. is General Electric. Visa is the associate sponsor.

Both GE and Visa will provide branded promotions with integrated media placements on Universal Sports TV and all of the participating parties’ Web sites.

The Paralympic Games will be available in the U.S. on with daily live and delayed highlight shows. Daily video highlights will also be available at the official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team,

Universal Sports TV will begin coverage on Oct. 8. TV coverage will consist of three-hour segments. NBC will televise a special presentation of the events on Oct. 18. Additionally, the U.S. Olympic Network will re-air portions of the 2008 Paralympic Games at the beginning of 2009.

“Bringing coverage of the 2008 Paralympic Games to the U.S. is a significant milestone in our mission to celebrate the athletes and competitions that truly exemplify the human spirit,” said Claude Ruibal, CEO of Universal Sports.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase these athletes whose stories are even more compelling [than the Michael Phelpses of the world],” he said.

Universal Sports, he said, found advertisers, such as GE and Visa “intrigued by the amount of hours we are covering, both online and on broadcast television.” In terms of the platform, Ruibal said there was a need to be more creative, going beyond the traditional 60-second spot, to have shorter form spots, running 10-15 seconds to “deliver content in an integrated way that would get the advertiser’s message across in the appropriate medium.”