Universal Sports Strikes Deal For Giro d'Italia Bike Race

In a last-minute deal, NBC Universal's Universal Sports, the sports cable network and online destination of Olympic sports, has struck a deal to carry the world's second-largest road bike race, the Giro d'Italia.

Universal Sports will air the three-week race -- which starts this Saturday -- with only live video (no commentary) at universalsports.com.

Universal Sports' 45-million-subscriber cable and local multicast digital TV network will also air a taped, same-day show (with commentary) starting at noon with re-airings from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. EST.

Universal Sports, launched June 2008, is a partnership between NBC Universal and InterMedia Partners. The network grew out of the World Championship Sports Network, which began in 2005.

RCS Sport -- the owner and manager of the long-time Giro race -- has been negotiating with Universal Sports for some time. Executives said RCS was also talking with the bigger cable sports network -- Versus, which had aired the Giro in the past -- and currently televises other cycling events, including regular, live wall-to-wall coverage of the Tour de France.



The deal took a long time to complete, according to one executive, because RCS Sport initially priced the event at a high level due to the inclusion of Lance Armstrong, who has come back to bike racing at the beginning of this year after a three-and-a-half-year absence. Universal Sports has a four-year deal with RCS Sport for the Giro and could expand the deal to include other RCS cycling events -- the spring classic one-day race, Milan San-Remo, and spring week long-stage race, Tirenno-Adriatico.

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