New net­work to fea­ture all Olympics all the time

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE -

NEW YORK — While too early in the morn­ing for a torch light­ing, a new tele­vi­sion net­work de­signed to high­light Olympic sports and Amer­i­can ath­letes chas­ing gold medal dreams is set to de­but to­day.

The Olympic Chan­nel: Home of Team USA net­work launches at 5 a.m. Cen­tral in some 35 mil­lion Amer­i­can homes with NBC’s Mike Tirico pre­view­ing the live sports, archival footage and doc­u­men­taries that will make up most of its pro­gram­ming. The show will re­peat sev­eral times over the week­end for those sleep­ing in.

World cham­pi­onships in track and field, swim­ming and div­ing and beach vol­ley­ball will fill con­sid­er­able air­time dur­ing the in­fant net­work’s first two months. A lengthy trib­ute to the 1992 United States “Dream Team” in men’s bas­ket­ball will lead into La­bor Day.

NBC Univer­sal is shar­ing costs and con­trol with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and the United States Olympic Com­mit­tee, although rep­re­sen­ta­tives wouldn’t out­line how that re­spon­si­bil­ity is di­vided. The net­work’s un­wieldy name is to avoid con­fu­sion with the IOC’s dig­i­tal Olympic Chan­nel.

Mul­ti­ple own­er­ship sit­u­a­tions can also be un­wieldy in cre­ative op­er­a­tions. But pro­mot­ing the Olympics is the IOC’s and USOC’s busi­ness. NBC Univer­sal also wants to build in­ter­est in the Olympics be­cause it has the rights to broad­cast sum­mer and win­ter Games through 2032.

Many fans fol­low Olympic sports and ath­letes for only a cou­ple of weeks ev­ery four years.

“The Olympic Games will now have a home be­tween these Games be­ing played,” Tirico said.

The Dream Team pro­gram­ming is ex­pected to be a draw. Over eight nights, the new Olympic chan­nel will fully air the games played by the team that fea­tured Michael Jor­dan, Magic John­son, Larry Bird, Pa­trick Ewing and other Hall of Famers. The games were such blowouts, with USA never win­ning by less than 30 points, that NBC never tele­vised all of them in full when they hap­pened.

The new net­work has ac­cess to archival footage for most past Olympics. There are ex­cep­tions for Olympics footage owned by ABC from the 1970s and 1980s — mean­ing the chan­nel would have to strike a deal if it wanted to air “Mir­a­cle on Ice” footage from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, for ex­am­ple.

Jim Bell, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of NBC’s Olympics tele­casts, said he didn’t ex­pect NBC will need to hire new on-air tal­ent for the net­work, which will only be avail­able dig­i­tally to cable and satel­lite cus­tomers who get the chan­nel. It’s un­clear at this point how the net­work will fit into NBC’s cov­er­age of next win­ter’s games in South Korea.

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