NBC Sports, a division of NBC Universal, and World Championship Sports Network have joined forces to create Universal Sports. Universal Sports will combine NBCU's programming and production expertise and promotional power with WCSN's leading online destination for Olympic sports plus its growing television network to create the preeminent multiplatform destination for Olympic sports programming.
The announcement was made today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and Leo Hindery, Jr., Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners, the controlling shareholder of WCSN. Universal Sports will include both a television network and a robust online platform UniversalSports.com.
"Universal Sports will provide a terrific year-round home to almost all Olympic sports and the athletes who give our viewers such compelling stories," said Ebersol.
"We invested in WCSN because we believe that Olympic sports have a large and passionate following and other than NBCU, WCSN was the most responsible steward for this audience," said Hindery. "It is a privilege and delight to see WCSN and NBCU now come together as partners, and the clear winners today are the fans of Olympic sports and the very sports themselves."
As part of the transaction, NBCU will become a significant shareholder in WCSN and will jointly control WCSN with InterMedia Partners. The WCSN management team, including Chairman and CEO Claude Ruibal and President Carlos Silva, will continue to manage the company.
In the first step of this new partnership, on Thursday, June 19 gymnastics fans and Friday, June 20 diving fans can now see live early-round coverage of the Olympic Trials on Universal Sports. Previously, these early-round competitions have not had a platform on which to be viewed.
"WCSN is the leading rights holder of Olympic sports programming in between each Olympic Games offering fans comprehensive coverage of skiing, swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and more than 40 other Olympic sports disciplines," said Ruibal, "Under the new Universal Sports name, and with NBCU as a partner, the combined business will be the undisputed home of
Olympic sports across all distribution platforms and will provide these sports and their athletes a real opportunity to get the consistent exposure they deserve across the USA."
WCSN will rebrand itself as Universal Sports prior to the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and will offer coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials. NBCU will use the promotional power of its Olympic coverage to drive Universal Sports' online and television reach. With the combined rights and archives of WCSN and NBC Sports, Universal Sports will represent a new standard for coverage
of Olympic sports in the U.S. expanding the availability and growing popularity of these great sports and athletes. In addition to serving Olympic fans everywhere, Universal Sports provides a year-round destination for the elite and everyday athletes who compete, hope to compete and admire those who compete.