Universal Sports Network Preparing to Go HD - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Universal Sports To Relocate HD Production, Office Facilities

Westlake, Calif. Campus Will House TV, Digital Equipment; Sales Remains In New York

Mike Reynolds -- Multichannel News, 11/16/2009 1:34:51 PM

Universal Sports will ring in the new year with a state of the art production and office facility.

The network, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Leo Hindery's private-equity firm InterMedia Partners, will consolidate its television and digital units into a 40,000-square-foot building in Westlake, Calif., near Thousand Oaks. The new facilities contain state-of-the-art production, control rooms, editing, sound and graphics facilities, with a 10,000-square- foot production area, as well as an 8,000-square-foot stage.

Employees and facilities currently located in Santa Monica and Glendale, Calif., as well as those in Bethesda, Md, will relocate to the new Universal Sports Campus in 2010; the sales staff will remain in New York. The new Universal Sports Campus includes the Four Seasons Hotel adjacent to the production facilities.

The facility was originally built by Dole Food. Co. chairman David Murdock, who had planned to launch a network to support and promote the endeavors of Dole Nutrition Institute and the California Health and Longevity Institute.

"Integrating our television, digital and corporate personnel into the new Universal Sports Westlake Campus is symbolic of our continued growth and commitment to expand our Olympic sports coverage," said Universal Sports chairman and CEO Claude Ruibal, in announcing the relocation. "We're very pleased we can offer our distributors, advertisers and viewers the best possible creative presentation of our products with the immediate ability to move to HD combined with the ability to offer ongoing live news coverage of the Olympic sports we cover.

Ruibal also noted that Universal Sports would look to tie into the "great synergistic opportunities David Murdock offers us by leveraging the incredible investments and research he and his team have done in health, nutrition and wellness at the Dole Nutrition Institute, CHILI and at the North Carolina Research Campus. One of the stated goals of our business is to encourage consumers to live a healthier lifestyle by participating in the sports we distribute and by engaging in eating habits that lead to a longer and healthier life."

Murdock also believes the companies can benefit each other: "We are very excited to be partnering with Universal Sports, not just at our production facility, but around helping us deliver our message of good nutrition. One of my missions in life is to share this kind of knowledge with others, so they can live more vital, active, satisfying lives. Universal Sports will be a perfect platform to help us accomplish this."

http://www.multichannel.com/article/...Facilities.php

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post #2 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 05:57 PM
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I have two comments about this.

Now that NBC has finally started provided some very nice PQ with the their new MPEG4 distribution are they going to ruin it by stealing even more bandwidth for this channel by going HD with it?

This tie-in with Dole makes me wonder if this channel is going to become a sort of Dole Foods informercial channel.
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post #3 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 06:28 PM
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So will this be another disaster like Live Well HD was to ABC? A HD subchannel will either kill the main channel or not really be an HD sub channel.
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post #4 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 06:56 PM
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That's what I'm wondering, our ABC station, KGO, is still soft looking to me even after all the adjusting/tweaking they've done since adding LiveWell-HD.
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post #5 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 07:30 PM
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Oh great the three shows I still watch on NBC HD are going to look worse. You think between this and Leno 5 nights a week that they are trying to kill the network.

You can never judge a show by its pilot episode or the half season following it.
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post #6 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 07:41 PM
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Does this mean NBC stations will be expected to carry it in HD, like Live Well?

Kinda funny they mention the Olympics. If they launch this BS subchannel in HD along with NBC HD, I can only imagine how bad the PQ will look on the Olympics. Probably as bad as or worse than 2008.
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post #7 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 08:32 PM
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This still is not available in some markets yet including Orlando.

Does anyone know if there market carriage will go up?


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post #8 of 42 Old 11-16-2009, 09:28 PM
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HD may be for cable/DBS/fiber/IPTV distribution, for the Olympics.

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post #9 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 01:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Now that NBC has finally started provided some very nice PQ with the their new MPEG4 distribution are they going to ruin it by stealing even more bandwidth for this channel by going HD with it?

MPEG4 or not, NBC looks bad enough here already. I've completely stopped watching fast-paced sports on it (along with ABC and a couple of others here - there are maybe only 3 left I can even stand to watch sports on anymore - which really sucks, because that's one of the main things I bought an HD display for).

I have a feeling that in 5 year's time, I will have given up TV watching altogether. Never felt that way with analog - I could put up with a little snow or ghosting on an analog CRT a lot easier than I'm able to put up with all the headache-inducing digital artifacts I'm seeing more and more of.
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post #10 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 03:59 AM
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I'm sure they'll go the same route as ABC with their LiveWell HD disaster. A solid 480 SD channel would actually look better than the artifact nightmare on that channel during even normal movement/camera panning. The fact that there's virtually nothing worth watching on that channel makes it even more ridiculous.
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post #11 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 07:58 AM
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If it's anything like that useless Live Well HD that is macroblocking galore, then I hope WNBC doesn't pick it up. But knowing them, they probably will.
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post #12 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 10:10 AM
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Well when Comcast buys NBC, it'll be a moot point and every Comcast system will get it on cable I'd hate to see it on Philly's NBC O&O, LiveWell sucks so much bandwidth from ABC's main digital so badly it's not funny. Praying that here in Philly, KYW(CBS) and WTXF(FOX) continue to broadcast without any subchannels.
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post #13 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdtvjunkie247 View Post

If it's anything like that useless Live Well HD that is macroblocking galore, then I hope WNBC doesn't pick it up. But knowing them, they probably will.

WNBC already has it as a sub channel, and since they are O&O, if NBCU makes the sub channel HD then they will carry it.
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post #14 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 10:58 AM
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So does KNTV-San Francisco, NBC O&O.

Hopefully Ken is right and it will be as an extra channel on cable/sat/etc because most all NBC stations, unlike most all ABC stations, are 1080i and I just can't believe they're going to try and get two quality HD signals in that 19.38mb/s with that weather channel already taking up bandwidth.
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post #15 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

I just can't believe they're going to try and get two quality HD signals in that 19.38mb/s with that weather channel already taking up bandwidth.

Weather Plus is gone, NBCU discontinued it after they bought The Weather Channel. It was replaced by Universal Sports on many NBC affiliates. WNBC has two subchannels, NY Non Stop and Universal Sports.
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post #16 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 11:24 AM
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Weather Plus is gone, NBCU discontinued it after they bought The Weather Channel. It was replaced by Universal Sports on many NBC affiliates. WNBC has two subchannels, NY Non Stop and Universal Sports.

They're still running it here, it's called NBC Plus and it's showing weather. Universal Sports is running on the other subchannel.
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post #17 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 02:12 PM
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I'd love to have the SD only version of Universal Sports. It would be a huge improvement over what is on WKYC-2. It used to be Weather Plus until that went away. Now it's just nonstop weather radar maps set to the news theme on a loop. A channel of 24/7 infomercials would not be as big of a waste as that is. I miss Weather Plus, at least it was useful. Weather radar maps are not.
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post #18 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

They're still running it here, it's called NBC Plus and it's showing weather. Universal Sports is running on the other subchannel.

We also have Wx Now which is very similar to the old Wx+. No Universal sports, which in one way I'd like but another way not, since it would rob bandwidth from NBC HD which in my market is #2 in PQ bested only by CBS.
It would be nice to see a sharing arrangement where several(3-4) SD channels could share one common frequency. IMO this would be better than tacking on more SD or god forbid another HD channel to a OTA HD main.
PAX used to have 4 SD channels with no HD in my market. It actually wasn't too bad, now PAX went HD on their main and the SD channels look like crap The HD channel isn't that great either.
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post #19 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 04:40 PM
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I have US blocked out, and just for the heck of it, I checked it out a couple of weeks back to see if I'd be able to watch it.

Well, I think I lasted about a whole minute. It was a bike race, with the racers riding right towards the camera - they were all bunched together, and weren't even going all that fast. It was nothing but a jumble of blocks - you could barely even make anything out.

I don't know if it looks that bad everywhere (we have the WX sub, too) - but if it's at all similar anywhere else, I really don't understand how anybody can stand to watch it - no matter how interesting the programming may occasionally be. It's really that bad. If you want to be able to make anything out at all - like any kind of detail - that's pretty much an impossibility.

I don't know - maybe it's just not that bad anywhere else.
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post #20 of 42 Old 11-17-2009, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RemyM View Post

WNBC already has it as a sub channel, and since they are O&O, if NBCU makes the sub channel HD then they will carry it.

Not necessarily.

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post #21 of 42 Old 11-18-2009, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

I have US blocked out, and just for the heck of it, I checked it out a couple of weeks back to see if I'd be able to watch it.

Well, I think I lasted about a whole minute. It was a bike race, with the racers riding right towards the camera - they were all bunched together, and weren't even going all that fast. It was nothing but a jumble of blocks - you could barely even make anything out.

I don't know if it looks that bad everywhere (we have the WX sub, too) - but if it's at all similar anywhere else, I really don't understand how anybody can stand to watch it - no matter how interesting the programming may occasionally be. It's really that bad. If you want to be able to make anything out at all - like any kind of detail - that's pretty much an impossibility.

I don't know - maybe it's just not that bad anywhere else.

It's pretty bad here on NBC O&O WRC. On the other hand, the main HD channel actually looks great, even with Universal Sports and the NBC Plus weather thing taking up two subchannels. The local CBS affiliate looks much worse, and they're only running one subchannel (along with a mobile DTV test stream, if you want to count that).
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post #22 of 42 Old 09-11-2011, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Universal Sports Launches Ad Campaign To Support Move To Fee-Based Carriage

'I Want Universal Sports' Multimedia Initiative Prompts Consumers To Call Their TV Providers

Mike Reynolds -- Multichannel News, 9/12/2011 12:01:00 AM

Looking to upgrade from multicast positioning to fee-based carriage by year's end, Universal Sports is launching an ad campaign aimed at raising awareness and getting consumers to call their TV providers.

The "I Want Universal Sports" consumer and trade campaign will begin this week, with promo spots featuring on-air talent on the network's air and website, as well as ads in local print and digital outlets in priority markets. Messaging will feature the above tagline and a toll-free number, 1-800-55-GET-US, aimed at connecting them to TV providers.

I Want Universal Sports adA joint venture of Leo Hindery's InterMedia Partners and Comcast's NBC Sports Group, Universal Sports is currently available in some 55 million homes in all of the top 10 DMAs and 20 of the top 25 via multicast carriage and its first affiliate deal with DirecTV. The nation's top DBS provider made Universal Sports available to all of its customers via a freeview in July and now offers it on a sports package. License fee terms were not disclosed.

David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports, said the network launched via multicast on broadcast stations in 2008 and after monitoring that approach determined that transitioning the service to a fee-based cable network was "the best way going forward." He noted that contracts with the stations expire by year-end and are "synced up in a way to facilitate" this migration.

Sternberg said the network has engaged in such talks with cable, satellite and telco distributors since he joined the company in 2010, with an eye toward increasing distribution for the service, which presents an array of Olympic- and endurance-style sports, competitions and championships.

He noted that Universal Sports is in "advanced discussions with a number of MVPDs. We expect to have some announcements very soon and throughout the fourth quarter. "

The campaign is slated to run through the balance of the year with tactics changing as new distribution partners and carriage in markets are secured. Tent-pole network programming will be used to inform viewers of the switch, including promos running on its coverage of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup, Kona Ironman, the Gymnastics Worlds, New York City Marathon, alpine skiing, figure skating and its countdown to London Olympics fare.

Sternberg said the network will also ply on-site grass-roots marketing initiatives at a number of events, including the NYC Marathon and Skate America in Los Angeles.

Part of Universal Sports' pitch for carriage centers on primary and secondary research indicating that its affluent, highly-educated and gender-balanced audience has affinity for these types of sports throughout the year. The network also over-indexes against premium channel, high-speed data and high-definition subscribership.

Speaking of HD, Sternberg said Universal Sports will launch an enhanced signal in January, an offering that was previously hamstrung by multicasting bandwidth constraints.

Since Universal Sports holds the rights to its myriad sports properties, it can also present video-on-demand and "TV Everywhere" services. Sternberg said DirecTV will launch an authenticated product with Universal Sports in the fourth quarter.

http://www.multichannel.com/article/...d_Carriage.php

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post #23 of 42 Old 09-11-2011, 09:40 PM
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Right. Seems to me like this is an effect of the Comcast merger: Universal Sports no longer has to subsist only as an OTA network. Not a sign that NBC is going to ruin its network just to carry a second HD channel as a subchannel. Why bother? All the money is in cable.

Although, I suppose they could be pretty dastardly about it, and start giving cable systems access to a fiber feed of NBC that's unimpaired, and ruin the OTA version with an HD subchannel. That might be a good way to kill OTA use, at least among videophiles.


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post #24 of 42 Old 09-11-2011, 09:48 PM
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They've started to show some pretty good stuff on occasion in the past year or so.

Like World Championship/Olympic prelim gymnastic meets, and the same with figure skating.

Also, some of the World Hockey games, when they've had those tournaments.

(I couldn't care less about boring stuff like running, biking, Rugby or "Ironman" - whatever that is - probably one of those fake, made up sports with 'roided up participants "battling" with inflatable pool toys over a 4 foot vat of water).

However, I doubt if I'm gonna pay any extra for it, even in HD - for as little as they ever show anything I actually do care to watch. One's MMV, though.
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Originally Posted by URFloorMatt View Post
Right. Seems to me like this is an effect of the Comcast merger: Universal Sports no longer has to subsist only as an OTA network. Not a sign that NBC is going to ruin its network just to carry a second HD channel as a subchannel. Why bother? All the money is in cable.

Although, I suppose they could be pretty dastardly about it, and start giving cable systems access to a fiber feed of NBC that's unimpaired, and ruin the OTA version with an HD subchannel. That might be a good way to kill OTA use, at least among videophiles.
If all the money is in cable then why do all the big "over-the-air" networks (ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX) have far better ratings than any of the cable only channels and way more revenue?

I would definitely hope Universal Sports becomes a cable-only channel though if it means they drop the SD over-the-air feed and don't try to cram two HD channels onto one signal.

Also, NBC CAN'T give cable systems a higher quality feed because the cable companies didn't exactly build their networks in a wise manner and map out enough bandwidth for 200+ HD channels at good bitrates.
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post #26 of 42 Old 09-12-2011, 04:31 AM
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Where I live I have Fox on channel 24-1 in HD at 720p and ABC on channel 24-2 in HD at 720p. Both channels look awesome. So if done right two HD feeds on a channel will look great.

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post #27 of 42 Old 09-12-2011, 05:15 AM
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Don't expect any OTA channel to drop their sub-channels and offer "pristine HD" on one channel only.
That concept has been effectively killed by Genachowski's "Fill those Boxcars" analogy, as well as the general public's growing acceptance of sub-par quality in their media.

If we lose our Universal Sports channel, i suspect we will fill it with another news channel, an LDS-church related channel (maybe BYU-TV International), or M/PH (data) services.

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post #28 of 42 Old 09-12-2011, 05:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post
(I couldn't care less about boring stuff like running, biking, Rugby or "Ironman" - whatever that is - probably one of those fake, made up sports with 'roided up participants "battling" with inflatable pool toys over a 4 foot vat of water).

Ironman competitions are hardcore triathalons...run an entire marathon, bike over 100 miles and swim a few miles. Not sure how compelling it is on TV, but it's definitely a "real" sport.
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post #29 of 42 Old 09-12-2011, 05:45 AM
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So they want people to call their cable providers and tell them that they would rather start paying for Universal Sports in the form of a higher cable bill instead of getting it free, over the air? Good luck with that. This is not a channel with a wide audience, and cable providers simply aren't adding a lot of new channels these days.
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post #30 of 42 Old 09-12-2011, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by machpost View Post

So they want people to call their cable providers and tell them that they would rather start paying for Universal Sports in the form of a higher cable bill instead of getting it free, over the air? Good luck with that. This is not a channel with a wide audience, and cable providers simply aren't adding a lot of new channels these days.

No...they want you to call and say, "Since I have no other option for getting Universal Sports anymore, can I start paying you for it? And, you'll sell it to me in HD, right? Thank You from the bottom of my heart!"

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