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Olympic Channel to Debut, Bringing New Tie-Ins for Amateur Sports

28 Jun, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Channel surfing? Soon, there will be another swell to ride as the Olympic Channel returns to the pay-TV lineup. And it’s something sports planners may want to keep in mind when it comes to drumming up excitement for upcoming events.

Scheduled to make its debut on July 15, the Olympic Channel (tagline: “Home of Team USA”) will air year-round Olympics sports and promote NBC’s airing of its big Winter and Summer Olympic events, according to an article in MediaPost.

TV providers that will carry the channel , at least for most of their subscribers, include Altice, AT&T DirecTV, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The Olympic Channel will start in more than 35 million homes. In addition, The Olympic Channel will be available on streaming digital services, including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, Sony PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.

Plans for the Olympic Channel were first announced in December, following the global digital platform of the same name, which debuted shortly after the 2016 Rio Games. The new Olympic Channel will take the place of Universal HD. In fact, Universal HD will cease operation on that same date.

Since it will be a bit of time until the next Olympics (the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, will run from February 9-25), you can count on plenty of filler. The first month of programming will include extensive coverage of the 2017 FINA World Swimming and Diving Championships in July, and the IAAF Track and Field World Championships and FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in August.

There’s lots of “best of” highlights from Rio, Vancouver, Sochi, London and more – plus a few segments on retired sports (anyone remember ski ballet with Suzy Chaffee?)

The Olympic Channel, while perhaps the least likely place to feature amateur and youth sports, will nonetheless carry “road to PyeongChang” features as would-be Olympians work to qualify, overcome injury and train for the Games. There is a “Heroes of the Future” segment youth athletes can aspire to, and a “Sports Swap,” in which athletes try one another’s sports. (Sports commissions have already remarked on the effectiveness of having media representatives try sports when a tournament comes to town; this is a variation of that.)

There’s also the Olympics’ first foray into reality TV. “The Z Team” allows sports teams and athletes who are failing to apply to train with Olympians in order to turn their game around.  (Oh, hello, youth demographic; tear yourself away from the Kardashian network long enough and you might get some inspiration.)

The Olympic Channel is a partnership of the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee and NBCUniversal. Founding marketing partners supporting the Olympic Channel are Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba.

NBC Olympics will promote and produce content for the network, as well the IOC and USOC. NBCUniversal owns the U.S. media rights on all platforms to all Olympic Games through 2032.

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