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Universal Sports Spikes Over-the-Air Model

Universal Sports is transitioning from an over-the-air multicast channel to what it calls a "multi-platform, high definition service" on pay television, starting in Jan. 2012.

NBC's sports network has launched an "I Want Universal Sports" marketing campaign today to tell viewers about the transition. It includes print ads, television, radio and digital ad buys and on-site marketing.

Universal Sports airs Olympic-themed sporting events ranging from skiing to skating to track and field. The network made a substantial bet on the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which kicked off Sept. 9, and is airing several matches from New Zealand, including games featuring the U.S. Eagles squad. Parent NBC is airing some World Cup action too.

"Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, we've provided our exclusive global sports programming to viewers in more than 50 markets nationwide," said David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports. "We have demonstrated the extraordinary value of our content and brand, and our new business model will allow us to recognize that value while helping our distribution partners to grow their high-definition video and digital businesses."

A partnership between NBC Sports and InterMedia Partners, Universal Sports launched on DirecTV nationwide in July, and is in advanced discussions, it says, with other distributors.