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NBC launches new Olympic channel

News, 19 December 2016
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NEW YORK: NBCUniversal is joining forces with the International and US Olympic Committees to launch a new TV network in the summer of 2017 that will be dedicated to Olympic sports coverage.

Called "Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA", the new venture will offer fans year-round Olympic sports programming from around the world with an emphasis on US athletes and teams, the three organisations announced in a statement.

NBCUniversal, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) described the initiative as a partnership that will complement the existing Olympic Channel, a digital platform launched after the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The new cable channel will concentrate on live Olympic sports coverage, including both summer and winter sports, but the three parties also plan to commission Olympic-themed original content.

In addition, the channel will be able to draw on the IOC's extensive range of archival footage as well as films from NBC's library and the USOC's original Team USA programming.

"The evolution of the Olympic Channel in the United States is a significant milestone as we expand our distribution options across the globe in conjunction with our broadcast and National Olympic Committee partners," said Mark Parkman, General Manager of the Olympic Channel.

"Placing a spotlight on Olympic sports outside the Games themselves will ultimately bring them more deserved attention and help them grow," he added.

Gary Zenkel, President of NBC Olympics, also commented on the partnership. He said: "The Olympic Channel partnership will provide multiple, year-round platforms to highlight the incredible achievements and inspiring stories of Olympic athletes and the Olympic values they represent, including a full-time home for Olympic sports when we launch the new linear channel in 2017."

According to the Wall Street Journal, building a foundation of interest in Olympic sports is paramount for NBC, which may have garnered a record $250m profit from the Rio Games, but has observed a decline in US Olympics-viewing in recent years.

The Journal added that IOC and USOC officials also see the new channel as essential for them to maintain and build relationships with sponsors.

Data sourced from IOC, USOC, NBCUniversal, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff

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