Comcast has partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee to launch a new standalone cable network dedicated to the nation’s premiere athletes.
Slated to bow after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic Network will look to chronicle the “excitement, competition and values connected with the Olympic movement.” If successful, the venture would help the athletes maintain a higher profile during the interim periods in which no Games are held.
The network will be slotted on Comcast’s digital classic tier, which serves some 10 million subscribers and plays host to major sports-league channels like NFL Network, MLB Network and NBA TV.
The USON will offer live coverage of championship competitions and, following the 2012 London Summer Games, trials and qualifiers. News, archival footage and other original programming will be part of the mix as well.
A multiplatform effort, the USON will provide VOD content via Comcast’s on-demand and broadband platforms.
“The U.S. Olympic Network will be a dream come true for fans of the Olympic Games, delivering rich year-round content associated with the world's greatest sporting competitions,” said Stephanie Streeter, acting CEO of the USOC. “By bringing the stories, competitions and history of the Olympic Movement into American homes year-round, the USOC hopes to not only inspire a new generation of athletes but also to educate young people about the ideals and values of the Olympic movement.”
Streeter added that the increased exposure “will generate compelling opportunities for Olympic sponsors to expand their association with the Games. At the same time, we believe it will enhance interest in and viewership of Olympic-related coverage on broadcast networks.”
While terms of the Comcast-USOC were not disclosed, it is believed that the Olympic Committee will trade a percentage of the network’s ad revenue for carriage and promotional consideration. Comcast will oversee day-to-day operations of the USON, but the channel will not be grouped with the operator’s other sports properties (Versus, Golf Channel).
While the initiative marks the U.S. Olympic Committee’s first foray into programming, the USON won’t be the first network to focus on Olympic-level competition. Universal Sports Television Network carried the 2008 Paralympic Games and rebroadcast select competition from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Introduced in 2005 as World Championship Sports Network, the channel changed its name to Universal Sports in June 2008 after NBC Universal and Leo Hindery’s InterMedia Partners bought a joint stake in the venture. The network passes some 55.7 million households and is available in nine of the top 10 DMAs.