Comcast Moves Goal Posts for NBC Sports

Less than three months after Comcast Corp. took control of NBCUniversal, NBCU’s new CEO, Steve Burke, is angling for sports deals and pushing a big shift in how the entertainment company would use them.

Mr. Burke, who had been chief operating officer of Comcast, has long been interested in building a more viable competitor to Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN. Comcast’s own Versus sports network hasn’t been much of a contender. Now, he’s scouting out new deals in college sports and with the International Olympic Committee and the National Hockey League, people familiar with the matter say.

NBC is accustomed to digging deep into its pockets for sports programming. The difference now, though, under Mr. Burke, is that the days of NBC hoarding marquee coverage for the broadcast network are over. Instead, in a move that signals just how far the major media companies will go to push major sports events onto pay-TV, NBCU will bid for deals only when coverage of popular sporting events can be split across the combined company’s cable-TV and broadcast assets.

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