NBC boosts sports stable with acquisition

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC Sports is taking a further step into Olympic sports with the acquisition of World Championship Sports Network, a small television network and online site that televises year-round competitions.

The 3-year-old Los Angeles-based company, which is owned by InterMedia Partners, will be known as Universal Sports. NBC Universal has made an unspecified investment in the company and will jointly control it with InterMedia Partners. Universal Sports will continue to be run by its management team, Claude Ruibal and Carlos Silva.

WCSN has rights deals with most but not all Olympic sports, including track and field, gymnastics, swimming, World Cup skiing, beach volleyball and curling. It doesn’t have the rights to World Cup soccer, figure skating or tennis, however.

The partnership kicks off Thursday and Friday with coverage of early-round Olympics trials in gymnastics and diving.

“The whole vision of this is that we can give the fans 24/7 access to these sports,” Silva said.

The TV channel has about 2 million subscribers, with coverage in such smaller markets as Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit. Ruibal said he hopes the association with NBC Universal will help the channel to build distribution, though it likely won’t have a place in the extensive coverage NBC Universal is planning for the Summer Games in Beijing.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter