Universal Sports Rolls Out In NY, LA

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Just a couple of weeks after becoming a significant shareholder in World Championship Sports Network, NBC Universal’s rechristened Universal Sports service has rang up a six-fold increase in distribution.

Universal Sports, which carries Olympics-style sports fare, is now available in more than 13 million TV households via carriage contracts covering the New York and Los Angeles DMAs.

The network, which currently is airing Olympic Trials encores, is now available in the New York metro area on Time Warner Cable channel 162, Comcast channel 249, Cablevision channel 110 (119 in Connecticut), RCN channel 190 and Verizon FiOS TV channel 864.

Universal Sports is also available in Los Angeles on Time Warner Cable channel’s 226.

NBCU officials declined to discuss deal terms, and whether the rollout of Universal Sports was tied to broader-reaching Olympics packages. Many long-term Olympic deals, signed before the 2000 quadriennial from Sydney, are set to expire at conclusion of the Summer Games from Beijing, which begin Aug. 8.

NBC Universal is said to be seeking a “premium fee” from distributors for digital and TV rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, packages that included additional high-definition, video-on-demand, broadband and interactive content.

“These launches are the first steps in our aggressive plans to roll out Universal Sports ahead of the start of the Beijing Games,” said Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics, in a statement. “Now viewers in New York and Los Angeles can see expanded coverage of the Olympic Trials along with Universal Sports’ usual array of world cup competitions. 

Zenkel, through a spokeswoman, said: “Further distribution plans will be announced at a later date.”

WCSN, which had been owned by Leo Hindery’s private equity fund InterMedia Partners, only had limited multicast distribution in Detroit, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Reno, Nev. and Buffalo and Albany, N.Y., before NBC bought its stake earlier this month.

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