SBJ/20100823/This Week's News

Ebersol spotted on Golf Channel visit

Though Comcast is still months away from announcing the organizational structure for its planned NBC acquisition, some clues about how the merged company will look are starting to seep out.

Ebersol

NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol was spotted in Orlando on Wednesday taking a tour of Golf Channel’s operations, according to several sources. Ebersol flew in and out of the Golf Channel’s headquarters the same day, a trip that increased speculation that Comcast will pick the longtime media executive to oversee the merged company’s sports channels, including Versus, Golf Channel and Universal Sports, as well as NBC Sports.

Ebersol long has been viewed as the odds-on favorite for that position, which would report to Comcast’s chief operating officer, Steve Burke.

It appears unlikely that Comcast’s regional sports networks would be grouped with the national sports networks. Rather, sources say, Comcast seems to be leaning toward grouping the RSNs with NBC’s owned-and-operated stations.

Golf Channel is in 83 million cable and satellite homes. It has gained more than 9 million subscribers since signing a 15-year rights deal with the PGA Tour in 2007. Page Thompson has led the channel for more than three years. Versus is in 74 million homes. It has gained more than 11 million homes since it signed a rights deal with the NHL before the 2005 season. That deal ends after the coming season. Jamie Davis has led Versus as president since the spring of 2008.

The Comcast-NBC deal is in front of the Federal Communications Commission.

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