Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
LOS ANGELES — Universal Sports Network, the premier destination for Olympic-related sports programming, and DIRECTV, the world’s largest pay TV provider, today announced a multi-year, multi-platform distribution agreement, the first between the two companies. Under the terms of the deal, the network plans to launch on a free preview basis to all DIRECTV customers by early August, before moving to DIRECTV’s SPORTS PACK and other select packages on October 1, 2011. The announcement was made today by David Sternberg, CEO, Universal Sports and Derek Chang, EVP, Content Strategy and Development, DIRECTV.
In addition to the linear TV network, Universal Sports’ ownership of full digital rights to its content will allow DIRECTV’s customers to enjoy the network’s programming on the Internet, mobile devices and tablets as DIRECTV rolls out its multiplatform offerings in the near future. Universal Sports subscribers will also have access to supplemental live Internet streams of events not aired on the linear network.
“DIRECTV is the recognized leader in sports and we are very excited to be joining DIRECTV’s incredible lineup of sports programming with our multi-screen content offering,” said Sternberg. “This is an important step forward for both Universal Sports and DIRECTV’s customers, who will soon have the opportunity to watch all of our world-class sports coverage on any devices they want. We look forward to enhancing DIRECTV’s value proposition to all sports fans.”
“With the launch of Universal Sports Network in SPORTS PACK, we are enabling the many sports fans across our customer base to discover the wide variety of Olympic-related sports coverage available on this unique channel,” said Chang. “And it’s a great warm-up for next year’s Olympics telecast.”
DIRECTV’s 19.4 million U.S. customers will enjoy the initial free preview and can watch the world’s top athletes competing in championship events from around the globe this summer, including the U.S. Swimming National Championships in early August, the IAAF Track and Field World Championships in late August and the third and final Grand Tour of the summer cycling season, the Vuelta a España (starting August 20). Among the Olympians expected to compete exclusively on Universal Sports will be swimmers Ryan Lochte and Natalie Coughlin, sprinters Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay and cyclists Alberto Contador and Mark Cavendish. Most of these athletes and more will be prominent in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
Then, beginning in September, DIRECTV viewers will be able to check out on both Universal Sports and DIRECTV pay-per-view the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where host New Zealand, England, South Africa and the U.S. will compete for the sport’s quadrennial world championship. Select matches of the Rugby World Cup, as well as certain events from the IAAF World Championships, will also be made available to DIRECTV in 3D, a first for Universal Sports.