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Olympic Channel to launch on Aug. 21 after Rio closing

LONDON (AP) " The IOC will launch its new Olympic Channel next month following the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Games.

The digital channel, which will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, will go live on Sunday, Aug. 21, right after the ceremony, the International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.

The Madrid-based channel is designed to promote Olympics sports between each games and engage with young audiences. It will provide a mix of live sports coverage, historic Olympic footage from the IOC's archives, and news programming and highlights.

The channel does not cover the Olympics themselves, which are aired by rights holding broadcasters around the world.

The project, the brainchild of IOC President Thomas Bach, was approved by the full IOC in December 2014.

"The launch of the Olympic Channel on 21st August is the start of an exciting new journey to connect the worldwide audience with the Olympic Movement all year round,'" Bach said in a statement. "Fans will be able to follow sports, athletes and the stories behind the Olympic Games. The Olympic Channel will inspire us all and reach out to new generations of athletes and fans."

The channel will be available worldwide via a mobile app and at the web site olympicchannel.com.

Original programming will focus on "elite athletes, their quest for success and sport around the world," the IOC said.

The IOC said last month it had reached agreement with 27 international sports federations to collaborate on content for the channel.

Among the major sports signed up are swimming (FINA), basketball (FIBA), tennis (ITF), gymnastics (FIG), skiing (FIS) and hockey (IIHF). Among those not included were soccer (FIFA) and track and field (IAAF), which already have their own global TV rights deals.

The channel will initially be offered in English and offer subtitles in nine different languages.

Users will also be able to register for a "more personalized experience" that allows them to follow their favorite athletes, teams and sports and receive individually tailored content. The channel allows for sharing of videos across social media platforms.

Following the launch in August, the channel will seek to secure partnerships with rights-holding broadcasters and national Olympic committees to develop localized versions of the channel, the IOC said.

The project also relies heavily on the backing and involvement of the IOC's existing broadcast partners, including NBC in the United States and Discovery Communications and Eurosport in Europe.

The IOC said in 2014 the channel would cost about $600 million to operate over the first seven years, with the goal of breaking even in the first decade.

The channel's commercial and marketing department is located in the IOC's home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, while the production is run from Madrid, headquarters of the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

The channel plans to produce about 250 hours of original programming and content over the first year. It now has a staff of more than 60 full-time employees from 20 countries working in Madrid.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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