Olympic battle brewing


The US Olympic Committee (USOC) announced a deal with Comcast to launch the US Olympic Network next year as an all-Olympics cable channel. But the USOC may have jumped the gun in making the announcement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet given its blessing to the proposed US cable network. It reportedly has concerns about how this impacts its multi-billion-dollar Olympic broadcast rights deal with NBC Universal, which has the right to use the phrase “Olympic Network” for NBC in the US.

Comcast’s participation is conditioned upon IOC approval, but the USOC went ahead and announced plans for the network launch. The announcement noted that Allen & Company advised the USOC on the deal with Comcast and the Wall Street Journal reported that the USOC was intent on making the announcement during Allen & Co.’s conference taking place this week in Sun Valley, ID.

“The US Olympic Network will be a dream come true for fans of the Olympic Games, delivering rich year-round content associated with the world’s greatest sporting competitions,” gushed Stephanie Streeter, Acting CEO of the USOC in  statement that went on for many more sentences. By contrast, Comcast provided only a brief comment from Jeff Shell, President of Comcast Programming Group, saying how pleased the company was to be the USOC’s partner in the venture.

If the IOC and NBCU get onboard with the project – and that’s still a big if – the US Olympic Network plans to launch in 2010. “Broadcasting year-round, and using multiple platforms, including television, video on demand and online, the USON will provide a window into the quests of American athletes to reach the pinnacle of their sports. Viewers will be able to watch live coverage of championship competitions and, after 2012, Olympic trial events in a wide range of sports, plus live, non-stop news reports, commentary, interviews from the locations of future Olympic and Paralympic Games, and classic Olympic footage through its exclusive US access to thousands of hours of programming,” the announcement stated.