Olympic-Focused Universal Sports To Close

Universal Sports, the cable TV sports network, is shutting down, per reports.

The channel, which has been in operation since 2006, is majority owned (92%) by InterMedia Partners, with NBCUniversal owning an 8% stake.

Universal Sports has focused mainly on Olympic sports. The network has worked with NBCU in some shared programming deals -- including cycling’s recent Road World Championships as well as swimming, wrestling and track and field events.

In addition, Universal Sports use some NBCU’s graphics in its on-air marketing materials.

A Universal Sports press representative did not respond to emails by press time.

For the last four years, Universal Sports has been airing on satellite TV providers -- DirecTV (starting in 2011) and Dish Network (in 2012), as its two big pay TV distributors. Previously, it was on a mix of cable systems and local broadcast digital channels.

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As part of the closing, NBCUniversal issued a statement that it was buying up certain sports programming assets -- including many Olympic sports rights. NBC continues its long-term deal in airing Summer and Winter Olympics games.

“We are thrilled to be finalizing an agreement with Universal Sports that will provide NBCUniversal and NBC Sports with an impressive collection of media rights to some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events,” says NBC in an email statement. “We will have more information regarding our plans when the transaction closes in November.”

The network will be closing on Nov. 16.

3 comments about "Olympic-Focused Universal Sports To Close".
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  1. Aldo Bender from SmartSystems Media Group, October 23, 2015 at 10:06 a.m.

    Bummer, even though it was non HD content, FIS Skiing was fun to watch over these past years and I doubt I'll be able to find it elsewhere. This channel must have been a real money losing dog!

  2. Tony Reynolds from A KickIn Crowd, October 23, 2015 at 10:29 a.m.

    Disappointed it will be closing down. It's too bad they didn't try more innovative mix of programming along with the Olympic programming.

  3. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, October 23, 2015 at 10:18 p.m.

    Count me among those who are disappointed to lose the Universal Sports channel.  It was one of those rare little jewels that I could always count on to be showing some non-mainstream sport that I enjoy, such as skiing or bobsledding.

    Over the years that non-broadcast TV has evolved, I've seen one niche channel after another bite the dust, simply because they didn't bring in the big numbers. The early promises we all heard about the wide variety of programming that cable and satellite TV would bring just haven't materialized.  It's now almost all the same semi-garbage, with too few exceptions. The only difference is that there's more of it.

    What still puzzles me is why sponsors and ad agencies don't seem to be able to tap-into the smaller, but more savvy and upscale audiences that watch channels like Universal. 

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