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Sochi Games Raise the Bar for NBCU’s Sports Cabler

Devoted Olympics fans could find themselves tuning in more often to NBCSN than any other NBCU network as the Sochi Games get under way. That’s because the company’s sports-oriented cabler will feature Olympics coverage most days from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. — totaling more than 230 hours overall (more time than will be devoted to Olympics coverage on either NBC, USA, CNBC or MSNBC).

The company hopes those who tune in will find reasons to stay after the Sochi Olympics begin to fade from memory.

“I think we have a much stronger transfer of audience plan coming out of Sochi than we did out of London,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group.

In 2012, the National Hockey League season was delayed by a lockout, and NBCSN had yet to feature English Premier League soccer or its “Dan Patrick Show.” Now, the network is showing the results of investment in content. NBCSN is slated to feature the second half of the NASCAR season exclusively next year, adding to its portfolio of motorsports content. The strategy, Lazarus said, is to build a sports lineup that is not duplicated elsewhere. Many networks offer NBA games, for instance; Lazarus wants NBCSN to feature programming viewers won’t find easily elsewhere on national television.

NBCSN has room for growth. According to SNL Kagan, distributors pay $5.54 per subscriber for ESPN, $1.13 per sub for the NFL Network and 70¢ per subscriber to Fox Sports 1. NBCSN commands just 33¢ per subscriber, according to the market-research firm.

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