SBD/January 25, 2013/Media

U.S. Figure Skating Acquires TV Rights To ISU Events, Will Sublicense Events To NBC

U.S. Figure Skating (USFS) has partnered with Van Wagner Sports and MLBAM, a partner in the NGB's digital venture IceNetwork.com, to acquire the domestic media rights for all Int'l Skating Union events through '18. The acquisition, which is expected to be announced Friday, increases the NGB's media rights by more than 70 hours. USFS will sublicense ISU figure skating events to NBC, which has agreed to show approximately 20 hours annually. Another 50 hours will be shown on Universal Sports. Additional programming will be available on IceNetwork.com. USFS has also signed an extension with NBC that will see the network air 11 hours of USFS events annually through '18. USFS Exec Dir David Raith said, “Figure skating will have a true home you can count on and you’ll know it for the next five years. Our rights and the ISU rights combined are truly a major property in this country.” Van Wagner Sports will sell advertising for the broadcasts. The agency currently sells more than 30 hours of figure skating programming on NBC in the 4th and 1st quarter annually. It is sold out of inventory in the first quarter of this year, and its sales success was part of the reason USFS picked up additional programming from the ISU. Van Wagner President Cliff Kaplan said, “The growth in advertising and sponsorship revenue is a big part of what’s supporting the expansion of these rights. The roster of partners, the sell out we’ve gotten to, what we’re seeing is there’s clearly advertising and sponsorship demand for this programming.” More than anything, Raith said the acquisition was about raising awareness of figure skating. He added, “The large increase in the number of hours we’ll be seen we hope helps with the popularity of figure skating and create new stars, and from a business standpoint, we hope it’s going to generate more revenue.”
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