Late last year, NBC announced it was going to launch its linear version of the Olympic Channel. If you’ve watched figure skating, skiing or track and field coverage on NBC/NBCSN/Universal HD this year, you may have noticed the Olympic Channel branding. Now we know when NBC Sports Group will launch the new network.
According to NBC’s parent company, Comcast, the Olympic Channel will begin on July 15 and will take the place of Universal HD. In fact, Universal HD will cease operation on that same date. Comcast made the announcement on its web site.
Comcast says the Olympic Channel will carried on Comcast’s Digital Preferred tier. Phillip Swan over at the TV Answerman site says AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV will carry the network at launch date but it’s not clear on which tier it would be. DirecTV has Universal HD on its HD Extra Pack package, but it’s unlikely that the Olympic Channel would be placed on that tier.
The fact that Comcast and AT&T/DirecTV are on board to carry another NBCUniversal sports network means that carriage agreements with the other major pay TV providers are likely before the launch date.
Universal HD has carried various Olympic sports since 2015 when the old Universal Sports ceased operation, but now Universal HD which besides Olympic sports has been a channel which has aired repeats of NBC, Bravo and USA Network programs will be going by the wayside.
When the Olympic Channel launches on cable and satellite, it will offer live events and focus on the U.S. athletes vying to become Olympians for both the Winter and Summer Games.
The online Olympic Channel which has been offered over the top since the end of the Rio Olympics will continue to operate.
NBC hopes viewers will watch Olympic sports year-round and get to know the athletes going into the Games instead of just discovering them every two years.