Many fans turn their attention to sports such as archery, luge, diving and biathlon only when the Olympic Games come around.
Starting this weekend, a new broadcast channel will try to bridge that gap with year-round coverage of the Olympic movement.
“Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA” is an Americanized version of the global channel the International Olympic Committee launched last year. A joint effort by the IOC, U.S. Olympic Committee and NBCUniversal, it will focus more closely on U.S. athletes and events.
“You go throughout the season, and there’s training, there’s preparation, there’s competitions,” snowboarder Shaun White said this week. “There’s all these things that lead up to the Olympics.”
Domestic and international competition will represent much of the content, with the world swimming and diving championships, world track championships and beach volleyball championships on the schedule through August. In cases where events also will be shown on established NBC channels, the new Olympic spinoff will offer additional coverage of preliminary rounds.
There also will be original programming and archival shows, including a rebroadcast of all the games played by the basketball “Dream Team” at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
At first, the new channel will reach only about 35 million viewers nationwide and will be limited to DirecTV and select cable providers in Southern California. Check here for a channel finder.
It also will be live-streamed on OlympicChannel.com, the Olympic Channel app, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and services such as Hulu and YouTube TV.
Sports officials and broadcasters hope that more exposure eventually will translate into a larger Olympic fan base.
“It’s about embracing the athletes at an even earlier stage than we do now, and about embracing sports — in many cases, sports that could use some embracing,” NBC executive Jim Bell said.
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