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Nick adds Gas to sports deals

Exclusives with NBA, Major League Soccer

Nickelodeon has signed separate deals with the National Basketball Assn., Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer to get sports programming both for the main network and its 10-week-old clone Nickelodeon Gas.

Basketball will funnel exclusive coverage of its NBA 2ball to the two networks in the form of six weeks of interstitials in May and June, leading up to the “NBA 2ball at the Finals” half-hour special Saturday, June 19, at 5 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

NBA 2ball features two-player teams of boys and girls ages 9 to 11 who show off their shooting, dribbling, passing and rebounding abilities.

More features

The baseball deal offers Nickelodeon access to players and game footage for a series of short features. Soccer will provide Nickelodeon with exclusive play-of-the-week highlights to run several times throughout the day as interstitials.

“This programming is important, because research shows that 95% of kids participate in sports in their communities,” says Cyma Zarghami, executive VP and G.M. of Nickelodeon. “And just as many girls as boys are involved.”

Zarghami said Nickelodeon is also taking with the National Football League and the National Hockey League about similar arrangements.

Suite deal

Because it’s part of Nickelodeon’s grouping of digital networks under the umbrella title “The Suite,” Gas reaches fewer than a million subscribers, a tiny portion of the 70 million-household cable-and-satellite universe.

But Zarghami says that cable systems are expanding their channel capacity at a rapid pace, providing future opportunities for Gas to become successful down the road.