NBC Sports & World Championship Sports Network Partner to Launch Universal Sports
Universal Sports Creates Multiplatform, Year-Round Destination for Athletes and Olympic Sports Fans
Live US Olympic Trials Programming is First Step in New Partnership
NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES – June 16, 2008 – 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.
About World Championship Sports Network (WCSN)
World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) is the premier destination for fans of Olympic and lifestyle sports, delivering an immersive experience via exclusive live and on-demand coverage of world-class competitions, interaction with top athletes and in-depth access to sports news and information year round.
WCSN’s event programming includes over 200 live events, offering more than 2,000 hours of annual original event programming and thousands of hours of archival programming, delivered on television, online, on wireless devices and on satellite radio. Along with event coverage, WCSN offers fans value-added experiences, allowing them to interact with their favorite world-class champions, as well as become familiar with up-and-coming athletes through the site’s blogs and interviews. For more information, please visit www.WCSN.com
About NBC Universal
NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.
NBC Universal Sports & Olympics presents viewers with a lineup of prestigious sports properties. As America's Olympic Network, NBC will bring television's most powerful property to hundreds of millions of viewers through 2012, including the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and the 2012 London Games. In September 2006, NBC kicked off "NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week. The unprecedented six-year NFL deal, which includes innovative flexible scheduling, continues through the 2011 season with Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012. NBC's associations with the USGA, PGA of America and PGA TOUR were all recently extended: the USGA and PGA of America through 2014 and PGA TOUR through 2012. Under the agreements, NBC Sports more than doubled its golf coverage beginning in 2007 and broadcast premier events such as the U.S. Open, Ryder Cup, The Players Championship, The Presidents Cup and the final three season-ending PGA TOUR Championship Series events featuring The Tour Championship.
Other premier NBC Sports properties include Notre Dame football, Wimbledon, the French Open, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. NBC Sports and the NHL entered a revenue sharing partnership in 2004. The network presents regional regular season coverage, Stanley Cup playoff games and primetime coverage of Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Final. In February 2004, NBC Sports announced the breakthrough AST, a five-month pro tour of action sports.
About InterMedia Partners, L.P.
InterMedia Partners, L.P. is a private equity investment firm that makes control investments in media companies. Currently investing its seventh fund, InterMedia is focused on media content catering to underserved audiences. Founded by Leo Hindery, InterMedia is managed by former media industry executives from the television, cable, print and Internet industries. InterMedia has ten portfolio companies in its current fund, including cable networks, magazine and book publishers, and Internet and content creation businesses.