Fills gap left by Rossiya's Sport channel

Russia’s leading pubcaster, First Channel, will launch a digital sports service with state television holding VGTRK, the channel said Monday.

It is one of three digital sports channels due to bow this year.

2Sport2 will fill the gap left by last week’s closure of rival pubcaster Rossiya’s Sport channel.

The high-def web will be available via cable and satellite.

It will have access to events, including soccer’s 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa, previously screened by the Sport channel, which owned the rights.

Rossiya shuttered Sport to make way for a new Rossiya 2 channel with a broader appeal to viewers and advertisers.

Aimed at auds ages 25-plus, Rossiya 2 will continue to air popular sport but will also show films, series, documentaries and news.

Coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which open in Vancouver next month, will be available both on digital services via cable and satellite and free to terrestrial viewers, although a First Channel spokesman could not confirm whether 2Sports2 will be up and running by then.

VGTRK also plans to launch Sport 1 and Sport 2 to offer Russian sports fans a wider choice.

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