America's Cup: Major America's Cup TV deal announced

Jon Miller, President of Programming at the NBC Sports Group (left) with Richard Worth of America’s Cup Events Authority

A major announcement has been made on the TV broadcast in the US of the 34th America's Cup.

There was no further detail on the arrangement at this morning's weekly international media conference on America's Cup matters.

The arrangement, at this stage, covers only the America's Cup itself, and not the Louis Vuitton Cup and whatever is conducted as a Defender Selection Series.

It is likely that there will be a further announcement as to coverage once the entries close for the 34th America's Cup regatta in June 2012.

Currently there are three Challengers who have confirmed entry, with a fourth Green Comm (ESP) looking every likely to be on the startline, with an AC72.

When the entries have closed, and final numbers have been determined, then the racing formats will be confirmed and at that point further TV coverage negotiations will begin.

It is also believed that a further major TV deal is imminent, probably with a European broadcaster, given that Italy and Spain are represented in the AC72 mix.

The US TV deal and a potential major European deal will be significant from a Challengers point of view - providing tangible value to sponsorship discussions.

It is expected that details of what is being negotiated were released at the just concluded Competitors Forum, staged in San Francisco and attended by ten teams entered in the America's Cup World Series and the four/five entered in the America's Cup Regatta.

At this morning's media conference the potential for an America's Cup Youth Series was discussed. Regatta Director, Iain Murray would only say that the subject was being discussed involving the AC45's, but were very much at the planning stage only. However it would seem that the teams will be national ones, in contrast to the current Cup team structure, where anything goes.

New Zealand national Optimist Champion, Leonard Takahashi-Fry on the handlebars of the AC45

The formal announcement as to the US TV coverage is as follows:

The NBC Sports Group will present live coverage of the 34th America’s Cup on both NBC and the NBC Sports Network beginning on September 7, 2013 from the Cup’s host city of San Francisco.

The first two days of racing will be broadcast over-the-air across the United States on September 7-8 on NBC, with the remaining races airing on NBC Sports Network. With the event taking place in San Francisco, the NBC Sports Group’s regional sports network Comcast SportsNet California will provide the additional local coverage that surrounds the America’s Cup Finals. NBC Sports Group also acquired the rights to the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, which determines the challenger for the America’s Cup Finals.

Jon Miller, President of Programming at the NBC Sports Group said, 'This is a great example of how the unique assets of the NBC Sports Group – broadcast, cable, and regional -- can work together to provide comprehensive coverage of a prestigious event. Viewers are in for a treat as the defense of the Cup by Team USA/ORACLE Racing takes place in the U.S. for the first time in 18 years.'

To change the way people understand the sport of sailing, the 34th America’s Cup event organizers have made a significant investment in the production of next-generation broadcast images, anchored by onboard agile HD cameras and 14 microphones on each America’s Cup boat.

'This America’s Cup is breaking remarkable new ground in the broadcasting of sailing, which is intensely watchable and much more reliable for sports schedulers than in the past.' Richard Worth, Chairman, America’s Cup Event Authority said. 'Viewers are in for a real treat over the next 18 months as the America’s Cup unfolds, and we are delighted in the enthusiasm the NBC Sports Group has shown for this partnership.'

The backbone of this new visual experience is also a breakthrough in sports broadcasting – augmented reality from a helicopter called LiveLine. Created by the same Emmy award-winning team that developed the yellow first-down line widely used in the broadcast of American football, this revolutionary graphics system enables embedded technical aids for viewers, such as ahead-behind lines so audiences can clearly see who is leading the race.

'To connect with a national television audience, we know we must deliver a product that is compelling, exciting and world-class, and I believe we have accomplished that goal,' said Worth. 'We’re telling the America’s Cup story in a way that is unique in sports today, bringing the audience right onto the boats so they are embedded into the action.'

Beyond the television presentation, the partnership between the NBC Sports Group and the America’s Cup Event Authority includes marketing, promotion and distribution of the 34th America’s Cup events over the next two years.