The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

NBC Has a New Sports Channel

Jan 9th, 2012
6:11 pm PDT

I sat down a little bit ago to put together my thoughts on this weekend’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. While I was going through the event website I was struck by the fact that there will be no coverage of the Trials – no television, no internet streaming. I found that very disappointing. Especially given that there is a new sports channel that would seem to be perfect for running/track and field.

That’s because as of the beginning of this year the old “Versus” sports programming station is now owned by NBC and has been renamed NBC Sports Network. A perfect fit it would seem for track and field since NBC is the television “Home of the Olympics” and track and field is a primary sport of the Games – if not the centerpiece. One would think a perfect match for both the Network and USA Track and Field. After all we have a sport desperately in need of television coverage entering the year it is most televisable and a new network that could use all the high level programming it can get. After all, the rights to the NBA, MLB, NFL, Golf, and Hockey are already signed and locked up – so the competition shouldn’t be that fierce.

As a matter of fact, I took a quick look at the current programming on NBC Sports Network and found

  • A 1986 movie about a hockey player
  • A new sports talk show – repeated several times
  • A poker tournament
  • The Dakar Car Rally
  • A surfing competition
  • Several fishing shows
  • And a lot of “Paid Programming” scheduled over the upcoming twelve hours

Similar programming blocks are scheduled as I scrolled through the upcoming week. So it would seem that there is opportunity there to televise events like the Marathon Trials or various domestic track meets leading up to the Olympic Trials and NBC’s big event for the year – the London Olympics.

I understand that USATF is without a CEO at the moment, but the organization is functioning and someone is in charge. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often – basically a new network that is focused on sports with available programming slots. As a matter of fact, the last really viable sports network, ESPN, was launched way back in September of 1979! That’s a long time between networks that don’t already have all of their sports programming locked up.

So I would implore the staff at USATF to get with NBC and see what kind of deals can be worked out – because the time will never be better than NOW. And this is potentially a great opportunity for the sport to get some much needed “face time”. It’s too late for the Marathon Trials, but possibly not too late to get a few extra meets on between now and the Games. From there who knows what the possibilities are. I know that we won’t know unless someone gives it a shot, which brings me back to the Marathon Trials, because several athletes will be looking for their shot at a ticket to London. That’s what I’ll be looking at when I come back – my thoughts on the Marathon Trials.

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6 Responses to “NBC Has a New Sports Channel”

  1. Anderson says:

    Well I would assume that the Diamond League will already be televised since apparently Universal Sports is gone from cable networks for this new channel. I cant imagine any other meets that could be broadcast though that aren’t already shown on TV. Obviously we can wish for meets like NCAA regionals and some smaller meets in the summer, but what else?

    • CHill says:

      Well the marathon Trials would have been nice .. So would more Diamond League meets .. We only had New York, Eugene and Zurich last year .. We got Zurich but not Brussels .. That was a bummer … And early meets like Daegu &/or Shanghai would be nice .. In between meets like Rome, London since it will be home to the Olympics … And we didn’t have meets like Lausanne, or Ostrava, among others even with Universal Sports (which was not carried by my provider) .. NCAA Regionals .. A full Penn Relays, at least the more world class events outside of just a few of the USA v The World Relays ..

      We’re so used to NOT seeing track and field on TV that I think people forget what is out there to watch … I see one or two meets on the internet a week .. Certainly some of those could be televised ..

      • Anderson says:

        Oh you are right, I think because they showed the diamond league meets online i automatically assumed that they would be shown on TV, when in reality there we only those few shown.

  2. choko says:

    The early season meets in Brazil and the French Caribbean as well as the Jamaican Schools Champs (which are awesome) and their Trials should also be available.

    • CHill says:

      True, though I would think that NBC tries to focus more on U.S. talent when possible .. But even saying that, the Kingston Invitational would be perfect .. A lot of top level Jamaicans and Americans tend to compete and it would be a perfect way to promote the “US v Jamaica” rivalry that everyone tries to hype up …

  3. Aurelio Feldman says:

    Choko is a bigger track fan than I am, I am Brazilian and let me tell you the meets in here are not great.

    A few good athletes from US or Europe running against a lot of Brazilians who are not able to get times to qualify to the Pan Am Games.

    You are not losing a lot, I assure you.

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