NBC makes move into sports webcasting

NBC Sports has taken a massive step into Olympic sports with the acquisition of World Championship Sports Network, a small television network and online site that webcasts sports events.

WCSN has shown global championships in swimming, gymnastics and athletics: the 2005 IAAF world athletics generated around $1 million in subscription fees from viewers in north America, who paid $10 each to see the week’s action from Sweden when there was no terrestrial television coverage available in the United States.

NBC’s move into the online sport market follows previous acquisitions by another US-based media giant, the Disney-owned ESPN, of, the world’s fastest growing cricket website, and, a rugby site.

WCSN is a three-year-old Los Angeles-based company which is owned by InterMedia Partners. It will now 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.

As well as FIG, IAAF and FINA, WCSN has rights deals with World Cup skiing, beach volleyball and curling. NBC’s involvement kicks off today with coverage of early-round US 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.

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.

Visit the WCSN site by clicking here

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