Universal Sports Lands Distribution Deal With DirecTV
Universal Sports has landed a multi-year distribution deal with satellite provider DirecTV, the companies announced Wednesday.
The pact will put Universal Sports – which is a joint venture between NBC Sports and private equity firm InterMedia Partners -- on DirecTV’s Sports Pack by October 2011, with a free preview for DirecTV’s 19.4 million U.S. customers by early August.
Universal Sports' programming consists of various Olympic sports including World Cup skiing and swimming as well as track and field, figure skating and gymnastics. The DirecTV deal comes on the heels of NBC Sports' $4.38 billion Olympic rights deal that will keep the Games on NBC through 2020. NBC Sports executives stressed a multi-platform approach to the Olympics with live coverage of all events on the company’s various broadcast, cable and broadband platforms. But it’s unclear if or how Universal Sports will figure into that game plan. Right now, company executives are actively strategizing a rebranding of Comcast-owned Versus to capitalize on Olympic programming.
The DirecTV deal encompasses Universal Sports’ programming on the Internet and mobile and comes in time for the network's coverage of the U.S. Swimming National Championships in early August, the IAAF Track and Field World Championships in late August and the Vuelta a España -- the third and final Grand Tour of the summer cycling season: Aug. 20. Universal Sports will have Rugby World Cup matches beginning in September. Select rugby matches as well as certain events from the IAAF World Championships will also be made available to DirecTV in 3D, a first for Universal Sports.