SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Olympics

USSA putting time buys behind it with new NBC agreement

The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association is finalizing a new TV rights agreement with NBC, and for the first time, the national governing body will not pay for the broadcasts of its events.

The USSA and NBC have agreed to terms on a five-year, revenue-sharing deal that will see total ski and snowboarding coverage increase from 12 hours to 18 hours on NBC and 24 hours to 32 hours on NBC Sports Network.

Since the late 1990s, the USSA has bought time and covered production costs for coverage on NBC. This year’s deal for 12 hours on NBC and 24 hours on NBC Sports Network cost it $5.1 million. Under the new deal, total costs will drop to $3.2 million, and its share of advertising inventory should offset that.

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“We go from losing money on TV to profiting, and that allows us to invest in infrastructure and support our teams,” said USSA chief marketer Mike Jaquet, who negotiated the deal.

The agreement gives NBC rights to show the 2015 and 2017 FIS Alpine World Championships, which USSA acquired in the U.S., and the 2019 FIS World Championships in freeskiing and snowboard. Those and every other event the USSA hosts, roughly 160 hours, will be aired live on NBC or NBC Sports Network or streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

“If you look at Sochi, the U.S. has 250-plus athletes here, and in excess of 40 percent of them come from U.S. Ski & Snowboard,” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports president of programming, who handled the deal for the network. “It’s important people become familiar with the athletes, the sports and the disciplines.”

USSA will keep some advertising inventory for its sponsors, and it will be able to protect some categories, including automotive, wireless, financial services, men’s care, household items, medicines and apparel.

It will collaborate with NBC to sell the rest of the inventory. Miller said that will allow NBC to include sponsorship assets in its media packages and USSA to include media in its sponsorship packages.

“That’s something we both find attractive,” Miller said.

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