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U.S. Olympics Plans to Launch Cable Network

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.: The U.S. Olympic Committee threw in with the nation’s largest pay TV operator to launch a games-themed 24/7 cable network. The USOC said it expected to launch the network next year in partnership with Comcast, the cable behemoth based in Philadelphia with 24.1 million subscribers. The pair said it would be “the first-ever cable television network devoted solely to the excitement, competition and values connected with the Olympic Movement,” though NBC’s Universal Sports diginet is predominately Olympics footage.

The International Olympics Committee reacted quickly from Lausanne, Switzerland. The USOC apparently forgot to run the idea by the IOC beforehand, according to The New York Times, quoting an IOC official saying, “We should have sat down before they did anything unilaterally.”

NBC currently holds the rights to the Olympics games, U.S. Olympics trails and several national competitions through 2012. The USOC said it would provide coverage of U.S. Olympic trials after 2012, as well as “classic Olympics footage,” although ESPN has the rights to that captured by ABC Sports.

The U.S. Olympic Network, as the new vertical will be dubbed, will include video-on-demand as well as a broadband platform. USOC officials said the new network would “enhance” existing broadcast coverage of the games, and contribute to the development of Olympic competitors.

“The USOC intends to use a significant portion of its net proceeds from the network's operations to help fund the training of American athletes,” the USOC statement said.

Allen & Co., which advised Major League Baseball on its Web platform, is serving as an advisor the USOC. – Deborah D. McAdams