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The Olympics, Year-Round: New TV Channel Will Come To U.S. In 2017

The "Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA" network, set to launch next year, will focus on U.S. athletes and show live competitions on the path to the Olympics. Here, U.S. athletes pose during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in August.
Matt Dunham

Fans of curling, synchronized diving, discus and other Olympic sports may soon be able to watch year-round, as NBC and its partners get ready to launch a TV network dedicated to Olympic sports programming.

The Olympic Channel, which began as a digital outlet after the Summer Games in Rio, is a collaboration between NBC, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. It's expected to launch in the second half of 2017.

The new channel looks to build on the Olympics' popularity by showing live coverage of winter and summer sports represented in the games, along with features that highlight athletes' personal stories. Archival footage will also be aired.

The Olympic Channel will also feature Paralympic sports, says USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, who called the Olympics' fan base the fastest-growing in U.S. sports.

Branded the "Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA," the network will highlight U.S. athletes and offer viewers "year-round Olympic-sport programming from around the world," the USOC says in a news release.

"The evolution of the Olympic Channel in the United States is a significant milestone as we expand our distribution options across the globe in conjunction with our broadcast and National Olympic Committee partners," said Mark Parkman, the Olympic Channel's general manager. "Placing a spotlight on Olympic sports outside of the Games themselves will ultimately bring them more deserved attention and help them grow."

News of the planned launch comes as NBC is slated to use its networks and digital outlets to show the Team USA Winter Champions Series, which starts on Saturday.

In announcing the plan, Olympics officials are following in the footsteps of many other sports organizations, such as the NFL and Major League Baseball, that have formed their own networks and channels even as they negotiate lucrative TV contracts.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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