As another figure skating season begins in earnest Friday with the first of seven senior Grand Prix events, a sport that has been sliding slowly out of general U.S. consciousness will be losing traction among even its hardest-core fans.
The pricing and programming dispute between Universal Sports and major distributors including Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T means some two-thirds of the 100 million U.S. cable / satellite / telco home subscribers no longer can get live coverage on their TV or computer of the Grand Prix, World Championships and most other figure skating events.
That also affects subscribers to icenetwork.com, U.S. Figure Skating’s web site, which previously streamed Grand Prix events live.
This week’s Skate America in Kent, Wash., is an exception. Through the end of the 2012-13 season, Universal owns U.S. rights to everything but Skate America and the U.S. Championships, both belonging to NBC. Universal has cut deals with Dish Network and Direct TV, which account for about the other one-third of home subscribers, but its programming is shown on those distributors’ premium sports tiers – further limiting the audience.....See it now. After that, skating is pretty much out of sight, out of mind for U.S. viewers the rest of 2012.