Last month, we told you about NBC’s plans to launch the linear Olympic Channel while at the same time killing Universal HD. NBC made those plans official with the announcment that the Olympic Channel will launch on July 15. NBC says the Olympic Channel will be available in 35 million homes at the outset and a few of the major TV providers will carry it.
Altice (Cablevision), Comcast, DirecTV, Spectrum and Verizon have come on board to pick up Olympic Channel. And several streaming services including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV will have it as well.
NBC will make Olympic Channel the home of Team USA events and it will carry various Olympic sports year-round. NBC says “Programming will emphasize live events” from both summer and winter Olympic sports. And it’s a way to keep Olympic sports in the forefront rather than fall by the wayside in off years.
Universal Sports did attempt this, but even though NBC was a minority partner, the channel never gained momentum in either carriage or ratings. And those events that Universal Sports carried migrated over to Universal HD and NBCSN beginning in the fall of 2015, but once NBC signed a deal with the International Olympic Committee to partner with the Olympic Channel, it was a matter of time before those events would be brought over.
So Universal HD will go dark. Asides from carrying Olympic sports, the channel was used air repeat programming from other NBCUniversal networks so NBC was thinking the space could be better utilized by a channel with live sports and original shows.
Some of the programming in the first month on the Olympic Channel includes the FINA World Swimming and Diving Championships from Budapest, Hungary; the IAAF Track & Field World Championships from London as well as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Austria.
NBC says the Olympic Channel will compliment the 400 hours of Olympic sports that are already scheduled to air on NBC/NBCSN and to be streamed on NBCSports.com/NBC Sports app.
With NBC contracted to air the Olympics through 2032, having the Olympics Channel is the next step and we’ll see how it will be utilized for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang come February.