More Details on NBC/U.S. Figure Skating Partnership

by Laura Fawcett

Read the original announcement of the partnership.

(4/23/07) - U.S. Figure Skating and NBC Sports spoke in greater detail regarding their new partnership during a teleconference Monday afternoon.

As part of the partnership, NBC will broadcast live coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and Skate America. The unique partnership includes 10 hours of event coverage and various marketing and broadband rights, highlighted by additional live event coverage on NBCSports.com and U.S. Figure Skating's icenetwork.com.

Details discussed included the revamped format of the U.S. Championships, the scheduled live coverage of Skate America, and the possible NBC announcing team.

NBC will broadcast live all four finals of the 2008 U.S. Championships during the weekend of Jan. 26-27, 2008. The pairs final will be shown Saturday afternoon, with the ladies and ice dancing finals live in primetime Saturday night. The men's final will be shown live during the afternoon on Sunday, Jan. 27.

How many athletes and/or teams to be shown during the live broadcast coverage for each event is still being determined.

“It could be anywhere from the last group of dance, which is five, or the last two groups, which is 10,” U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith said. “We are looking at the ability of doing 10 or 12 [athletes] in the singles … whatever works best with NBC to put into their live window, we will ensure that that happens.”

The ladies free skate is the only competition that is projected to have a “split” event on Saturday. The initial group or groups of ladies will skate earlier on Saturday, with the last groups skating as part of Saturday night's primetime live coverage. Again, how many ladies will be part of that live coverage is still to be determined. Men's, pairs and ice dancing finals will be seen by spectators at the event in the normal fashion.

Between NBC's broadband platform, NBCSports.com, and icenetwork.com, the U.S. Championships will be covered in their entirety for the first time ever, including live and on-demand coverage of the novice and junior events. Fans will finally be able to see every twizzle and jump in the U.S. Championships at every level, including short programs, compulsory dances and original dances.

“This arrangement with NBC allows U.S. Figure Skating to ensure that our U.S. Championships from the novice to the junior and to our senior levels will be the widest-exposed championships … than has ever happened in the past,” Raith said. “Every one of our competitions will either be on NBC television, NBCSports.com or icenetwork.com.”

Parts of the ladies and ice dancing finals at 2007 Skate America will be shown live during a two-hour broadcast on Sunday, Oct. 28, on NBC. The two-hour show may also include taped coverage of the pairs and men's finals taking place Oct. 27. Icenetwork.com and NBCSports.com will also provide a combination of live and on-demand domestic coverage of the remainder of the entire competition.

NBC has not yet chosen an announcing team for Skate America and the U.S. Championships.

“The only thing that's locked at this particular moment is that our producer of figure skating … David Michaels, will run our entire production effort,” said Dick Ebersol, chair of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. “With that in mind, I'm going to give him several months to come back with his final recommendations as to who the final announce team should be.”

“I have an association of 40 years with Dick Button as a friend,” Ebersol continued. “I worked with him in the early years of my career, so he certainly will receive great consideration, and he's been one of the great voices of this event for years.”

Ebersol also mentioned Scott Hamilton and Tom Hammond as people who will be given consideration when forming the announcing team.

Besides Skate America and the U.S. Championships, the partnership between NBC and U.S. Figure Skating also includes options to create other one-day invitational events during the season, such as last year's Campbell's Cup.