NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) has taken a majority stake in Los Angeles-based online and cable sports network World Championship Sports Network, and now the controlling owners of the company along with private equity firm Intermedia Partners. (Leo Hindery, who got YES on cable systems against the odds, is Intermedia’s managing director.)The company distributes original content through a variety of cable and internet outlets. The WCSN management team, including CEO Claude Ruibal and president Carlos Silva, will continue to manage the company.
NBCU officials say it will seek to aggressively increase the five-year old WCSN’s 2 million subscriber base over the next year under its new brand, Universal Sports Network, reports Multichannel…the website will now be called UniversalSports.com. The service could potentially be packaged as part of an overall extension of NBC’s Olympics deal with operators. This deal, coming in the year of Olympics where NBCU holds the U.S. rights across all platforms, will start with webcasting the early-round Olympic Trials of gymnastics and diving.
For NBC Sports, the deal provides a dedicated cable and Web-based outlet for some of its Olympics-based content, although Universal Sports will not distribute any 2008 Olympics events. NBCU has broadcast and cable rights for the Winter and Summer Olympics through 2012.