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Universal Sports Gets Out Of The Gate With FIS World Cup Skiing Pacts

Firming up its presence on the slopes, Universal Sports has inked multimedia rights deals with Infront Sports & Media covering major Alpine and Nordic events.
Under the first deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, Universal Sports gains the TV, online and mobile rights to World Cup races for International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine skiing, ski jumping, cross country, Nordic combined, snowboard and freestyle. The pact, covering the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands territories, encompasses almost 200 events per season, beginning in the fall of 2011.
As part of the deal, Universal Sports, a joint venture of NBC Sports Group and Leo Hindery's InterMedia Partners LLC, has also licensed three dedicated magazine programs on FIS snowboard, freestyle and Alpine skiing. Each magazine series is made up of regular 25-minute shows featuring race action, interviews, backstage shots and stories of interest from the world's top winter sports resorts.

"The agreement with Infront allows our network to continue bringing multi-platform coverage of the FIS World Cup events to millions of winter sport enthusiasts across the U.S.," said David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports, in a statement. "We are excited to showcase some of the greatest athletes on the planet competing week in and week out at stunning venues around the world."

"The United States is one of the major sports markets worldwide and - with its successful athletes and prestigious races - also a key nation in skiing," noted Bruno Marty, executive director winter sports at Infront, which represented the FIS in the negotiations. "The prolonged agreement with Universal Sports ensures that the extensive US audience is connected to the FIS World Cup events on a long-term basis. Universal Sports has acquired the rights to transmit an impressive 1,000 events to TV screens across the country over the next five years - in turn this will generate comprehensive exposure for one of the most popular winter sports in the world."
Finally, in a separate agreement with Infront, Universal Sports, which earlier this month inked a multiyear distribution deal with DirecTV, has also acquired the U.S. media rights for the 2013 FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships. These biennial events will take place from Feb. 4-17 in Schladming, Austria, and Feb. 20 to March 4 of that year in Val di Fiemme, Italy, respectively.