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Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Ten of the Decade #4

Coming in at #4 is Universal Sports and its predecessor, WCSN.

Back in 2005, there were no US takers on broadcasting the World Championships. WCSN, which I think was an offshoot of, popped up to offer hardcore fans a chance to see the meet. I passed, as my cable provider carries CBC, but some friends said it was fantastic as they used the BBC feed--no commercials and announcers that had multiple brain cells.

Originally this was supposed to be a one-off deal, but they kept the website going for the rest of the season and covered a bunch of late-season invites and the World Athletics Final. It came back the next year with an expanded slate of European indoor and outdoor meets. In 2007 they added other Olympic sports, and in 2008 they started up their own cable channel. By the end of that year, NBC gobbled it up and called in Universal Sports.

Unfortunately, NBC at times uses its own announcers instead of the Beeb's, but mostly they leave well enough alone. They've completely dropped the indoor season, but have done some wonderful coverage of domestic marathons. All in all, it's the best thing to happen to US track fans in a very long time.

ABC/ESPN has announced they're going after the next round of Olympic coverage. If they manage to wrest it away from NBC, I wonder what will happen to Universal Sports. I can't imagine they'd keep pumping money into an Olympic vehicle.

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