Universal Sports Network, after converting to a license-fee-based service with the turn of the year, has secured a second major carriage pact, inking a multiyear, multiplatform distribution deal with Dish Network.
The pact, financial terms of which were not disclosed, calls for linear distribution on the No. 2 DBS provider's multisport, international basic and Chinese basic programming packages, beginning April 25. During the interim, Dish is making Universal Sports available to nearly all of its almost 14 million subscribers at no additional charge. Dish customers can now view Universal Sports' exclusive Olympic sports coverage of qualifying, trials and highlights, as well as other endurance and adventure sports programming.
In addition to its linear TV network, Universal Sports' ownership of full digital content rights will enable authenticated Dish subscribers to access some of the network's programming at DISHOnline.com, as well as mobile devices and tablets.
The Dish deal marks the second major carriage agreement for Universal Sports, a joint venture of NBC Sports Group and Leo Hindery's InterMedia Partners, that had been carried as multicast service in many of the top DMAs. However, the network announced last summer that it would move to become a traditional cable channel upon the expiration of the multicast contracts with the broadcasters on Dec. 31, 2011.
After reaching its first license fee contract with DirecTV last summer, Universal Sports has notched deals with a number of smaller distributors, including Alaskan cable operator GCI, Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Minnesota, Cascade Communications in Oregon, Waitsfield Cable in Vermont, MTC Cable in New York and IPTV distributor SkyAngel.
"We are pleased that Dish recognizes the high value that Universal Sports Network offers through our exclusive rights to some of the world's biggest sporting events," said David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports. "We look forward to delivering our unique and compelling content to Dish customers on multiple platforms."
Universal Sports provides coverage of world-class sporting events, including the most year-round Olympic-related programming of any network. With the 2012 Games in London, the network will feature exclusive English-language coverage of the men's CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer tournament in March and the AIBA Americas Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in May.
Moreover, Universal Sports will be the home of 23 world championships this year, and it will once again deliver exclusive U.S. television coverage of such prestigious annual competitions as the Boston Marathon, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España and Kona Ironman.
"We are pleased to grow our sports offerings with the addition of Universal Sports and bring coverage of key sporting events from around the globe to avid sports enthusiasts across the U.S.," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish in a statement. "With this agreement, we continue to grow the amount of sports and entertainment content available online to our customers so they can watch TV on their smartphone, tablet or computer."