The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Friday, January 16, 2009

Will Universal Sports Let Us Down?

If you don't recall the full history of Universal Sports' predecessor, WCSN, it went like this. In 2005 there were no American takers on televising the World Championships, and a website popped up to allow US fans to see it. (I passed, as my cable provider carries a Canadian channel.) It was such a hit they added the remaining Golden League meets and the World Athletics Final. The next year they expanded their coverage to include more meets, and in '07 they brought on more sports. By '08 they had a TV channel and did so well that NBC bought them out.

One of the things you worry about when a bigger company buys up a smaller one is whether they will change the thing you loved. I didn't love everything about WCSN--they often promised more than they delivered--but you knew they wanted to bring you as much track as they possibly could.

I've been keeping an eye on the Universal Sports website so that I won't miss out on any indoor meets they might bring us from Europe. WCSN always loaded up on these.

Today I spied on the T&FN website a link to Universal Sports' preview of the 2009 marathon season. I checked their scheduled coverage for marathons, and they've already put down Rotterdam, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York, and the World Half Marathon championships. The track & field schedule? Still nothing listed. I fear there may be little to nothing coming to us from across the pond until June or later.

In case you didn't know, the real owner of Universal is NBC, who has shelled out big bucks for Olympic coverage. They don't give a rat's ass about track (you know this if you've ever seen them do a meet) and I'm sure they see the next two years of the website/cable channel as nothing more than a vehicle to drum up interest in the 2010 winter games. They, of course, could go out and spend some time and money bringing us a few European indoor meets--but I bet they wouldn't see that as a plus, rather they'd probably see it as a minus.

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