NBC Rings In Olympic Channels

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NBC Sports has secured significant distribution for four new Olympics-based channels that will launch in August, according to company officials.

It’s unclear, however, whether the channels are part of a far-reaching NBC Universal deal with operators that will provide cable operators carriage rights to future Olympics games in 2010 and 2012.

The channels – separate services each for 24-hour coverage of all soccer and basketball events and two foreign-language channels – are expected to launch to coincide with the Aug. 8 Summer Olympics debut and run throughout the three-week Olympic games, according to an NBC Sports spokesman.

The channels will each reach around 80 million households through deals with “most major MSOs,” according to the spokesman.

Multichannel News reported in March that the channels would be offered to operators as carrots to entice MSOs to extend their NBC Universal Olympics carriage deals through 2012. NBC’s current eight-year Olympic deals end in 2012. 

But neither NBC Sports nor NBC Universal officials would comment on continuing negotiations with operators.

Officials from Cox and Comcast confirmed carriage of the channels. Representatives from Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and the NCTC could not be reached for comment by presstime.

NBC will produce a 12-hour feed on the soccer and basketball channels – and a 14-hour feed for the basketball channel during men's prelim days – which cable operators will loop each day of the Olympics coverage.  

NBC will also offer a Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean language-based Olympics channel that will be produced in partnership with SINO-TV, a NYC-based, ethnic broadcasting company.

NBC and SINO will produce six hours of daily coverage spotlighting sports that are of most interest to Chinese viewers (national teams in soccer, basketball; judo, table tennis, badminton, archery) and Korean audiences (soccer, tae kwondo, weight lifting, shooting).

Earlier this week, NBCU secured carriage for Universal Sports, the former World Championship Sports Network in which it has secured an equity position, in the New York and Los Angeles DMAs, pushing distribution of the channel to some 13 million homes.