Granite on World Championship Sports team

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World Championship Sports Network, which touts itself as the premier destination for fans of Olympic and lifestyle sports year round, has entered into a multicasting deal with Granite Broadcasting Corp. to distribute the channel.

WCSN will take advantage of Granite's digital spectrum in eight major markets, including San Francisco and Detroit, to secure carriage on the local cable operators' digital basic lineup.

The channel, which will cover more than 60 sports disciplines, including gymnastics, cycling, volleyball and track and field, will launch starting in March, reaching nearly 1.5 million digital subscribers. The other markets are Buffalo, N.Y., Syracuse/Utica, N.Y., Binghamton/Elmira, N.Y., Fort Wayne, Ind., Peoria/Bloomington, Ill., and Duluth, Minn.-Superior, Wis.

WCSN is currently available online at www.wcsn.com, where sports fans can access free content about sporting events or pay a $4.95 monthly subscription fee for access to live coverage and on-demand video footage, and also as a syndicated TV show, "World Championship Sports." But this marks the first deal for WCSN as a round-the-clock channel.

"Placement on digital basic is critically important for WCSN allowing us to reach out to a broad-based audience consisting of fans and participants that are passionate about and have a lifestyle association with these sports," said WCSN chairman Claude Ruibal, who co-founded WCSN with executive vp and general counsel Tom Hipkins. "Leveraging this digital spectrum will enable us to reach a far greater audience base and provide our advertisers an efficient delivery to this important demographic, complementing our already strong online offerings."

Granite vp operational finance Marcy Timpone said the deal made sense for her company.

"We have four NBC affiliates which provide biannual Olympic broadcasts so having year-round, 24/7 world-class sports programming is a natural fit," she said. "We are thrilled to be delivering Olympic-caliber programming on a year-round basis."

Bo LaMotte, senior vp distribution at WCSN, said no money changed hands in the Granite deal. Rather, WCSN is giving up some barter advertising time to Granite.

LaMotte added that the channel will feature a mixture of live event coverage, archival footage of past events and original programming that could center on such topics as how an Olympic athlete reaches that level of competition or the top 10 "crashes" of the day. Also in the works is a half-hour show titled "Championship Corner" that will air Wednesday-Sunday, offering recaps, news and updates of the day's events.

LaMotte added that WCSN executives hope to have the network in 10 million households by year's end.

Separately, WCSN announced a four-year deal with the International Swimming Federation to provide global coverage of its events to U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands fans via WCSN's broadband and television outlets. The partnership will kick off in March with live coverage of the 12th FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

WCSN also has entered a long-term partnership with the International Water Ski Federation to deliver coverage of major championship events worldwide to fans via the company's broadband service, in the U.S. and Canada on WCSN TV and on WCSN's syndicated television show.
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