Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts says NBC Universal’s $4.38 billion deal for the television rights for the next four Olympics will be profitable. Some analysts disagree.
Many media observers thought NBC would walk away from the Olympics. After all, it lost $233 million on the 2010 Games and is likely to take a bath on the 2012 Games. But NBC agreed to shell out $4.38 billion to the International Olympic Committee to hold on to the Games through 2020. For all the talk about how the new owner Comcast was going to be tougher when it came to buying sports, there was also a fear of being branded as the people who lost the Olympics and drove another nail into the coffin of NBC.
NBC has won the U.S. rights to the Olympics through 2020 with a $4.4 billion bid. NBC, now controlled by Comcast, won the bid less than a month after the resignation of longtime sports and Olympics chief Dick Ebersol in a dispute with the new owners. The victory extends NBC’s reign as the Olympic network in the United States, a period stretching back 20 years.
Fox Sports began the auction for Olympic television rights Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland, by offering to buy the next four Games starting with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. ESPN and NBC Sports will make their offers to the International Olympic Committee today, when a winner is expected to be declared.
The escalating fight over TV sports rights reaches its biggest battlefield next week, as NBCUniversal pushes to extend its track record of Olympic broadcasting wins, and ESPN and Fox aim to spoil it.
Dick Ebersol’s abrupt resignation from NBC has upended all assumptions about the future of the Olympics on TV. Still, the longtime NBC executive’s legacy is expected to hover over proceedings next week in Switzerland as NBC, ESPN, Fox and possibly a combined CBS-Turner bid compete for Olympic media rights.