NBCU readies Olympics channel

NBC Universal, after buying a major stake in the World Championship Sports Network (WCSN), is quickly upgrading the new jointly owned and renamed Universal Sports properties for its Olympics coverage. The new broadcast network and Web site are already offering encore NBC presentations of the U.S. Olympic trials.

NBC Sports announced on June 16 its partnership with InterMedia Partners, the controlling shareholder of WCSN, whose managing partner is Leo Hindery, Jr. InterMedia Partners is a private equity fund. Hindery was former chairman of the Yes Network, the TV home of the New York Yankees.

Currently, the network is in about 2 million homes, though it’s expected that NBC’s involvement will dramatically increase the viewership.

In addition to serving Olympic fans, Universal Sports also seeks to provide a year-round destination for sports fans. The network got off to a quick start. Olympic trials for swimming began on June 29, with new swimming, track and field, gymnastics, diving, softball, whitewater canoeing, volleyball and other sports being added daily.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is working to create a broadcast channel of its own. Presumably, it would be a direct competitor to Universal Sports.